Touching up the roots of 'Hairspray' at Cockpit in Court

July 25, 2011|By Mike Giuliano

The lively new production of the Broadway musical “Hairspray” at Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre is another opportunity to consider the deep local roots of this show — and to ponder your preference for it in one medium or another.

My own vote for best version has to go to the original 1988 movie, directed by John Waters. How can anyone ever surpass the late Divine as that plus-sized Baltimore housewife and icon, Edna Turnblad?

The Broadway musical is great fun too, of course, and there have been several memorable actors playing Edna, as well as her similarly hefty daughter, Tracy, who undertakes a fight for civil rights and social justice on several fronts.

Then there was the movie version of the Broadway adaptation, which featured a so-so turn by John Travolta, of all people, as the indomitable Edna.

Do you have a favorite among the various “Hairspray” iterations? As a Maryland insider, it would be interesting to hear your reasons for which version you consider the rightful representative of this unique slice of Baltimore cultural history.

By the way, the Cockpit in Court staging of “Hairspray” runs through Aug. 7 at the Essex campus of the Community College of Baltimore County, 7201 Rossville Blvd. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m. There is also a Thursday performance, Aug. 4 at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $20 general, $18 for senior citizens, $12 for children. Call 443-840-2787 or go to

And speaking of time machines ...

How much creative latitude do you give a science-fiction story?

Personally, I don’t mind an outrageous premise, but I want its development to be logical. Otherwise, I have trouble caring about the characters and what happens to them.

This is one of the major problems I had with one of the entries in this year’s Baltimore Playwrights Festival — J-F Bibeau’s “Self, Inc.” It continues through July 31 at the Theatrical Mining Company, in Baltimore.

Set in the year 2061, this comedy concerns a corporate employee who secretly builds a time machine that produces his double. Questions of personal identity are raised by the play, though much of what happens seems arbitrary and ill-logical.

Even if you haven’t seen this brand-new play, you may want to respond to the issue that concerned me: If everything goes, does anything matter?

You can still catch a final performance of “Self, Inc.” at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, 4701 N. Charles Street. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 except for pay-what-you-can on Thursday. For more information, go to

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