The San Diego Rep opened its 35th season with the Tony Award-winner about integrating the airways in 1962. Like American Bandstand (which was as white as Dick Clark's teeth) and Baltimore's Buddy Deane Show, The Corny Collins Show only allows blacks to dance once a month. Young Tracy Turnblad - ostracized because she isn't svelte, has a beehive hairdo, and dances "downtown" steps - inspires a nonviolent democratization of the show. Director Sam Woodhouse smartly cast actors and musicians from the School of Creative and Performing Arts, who inject energy into a long-ish evening. Javier Velasco's choreography recalls the period (and his kaleidoscopic staging of a dodgeball battle is terrific!). Bethany Slomka's a kick as Tracy (who seems to dance nonstop throughout). Peter Van Norden, Tim Irving, Victor Hernandez, and especially Steve Gunderson (unforgettable as Tracy's hyper father) offer strong support. As does Pam Trotter singing "Big, Blonde, and Beautiful" and "I Know Where I've Been." And someday Victoria Matthews, who plays Little Inez with tons of spunk, will have her own show.
Worth a try.
Ongoing until Sunday, August 15, 2010