Edmonds’ Tate Busby is one of Corny Collins’ teen celebrity dancers in “Hairspray,” showing at the Everett Performing Arts Center July 6-29. Busby plays Sketch, shown giving a salut to the audience on the far left. (Tracy Martin)

Edmonds’ Tate Busby is one of Corny Collins’ teen celebrity dancers in “Hairspray,” showing at the Everett Performing Arts Center July 6-29. Busby plays Sketch, shown giving a salut to the audience on the far left. (Tracy Martin)

Talented cast busts an early-1960s move in ‘Hairspray’

Village Theatre takes on the musical inspired by John Waters’ beloved 1988 movie of the same name.

It just so happens that “Hairspray” is one of Tate Busby’s all-time favorite shows.

So Busby, an Edmonds Heights K-12 graduate, is beyond excited to play one of the Nicest Kids in Village Theatre’s production, which opens Friday in Everett.

“This is the show I’ve really wanted to do for a long time,” said Busby, who will graduate from Seattle Pacific University in November. “It’s super fun.

“But it also tells a story of acceptance and love, and that’s something we need a lot more of these days.”

The musical was inspired by John Waters’ beloved 1988 movie of the same name. It’s set in early 1960s Baltimore. Plus-size teen Tracy Turnblad auditions for and wins a spot on “The Corny Collins Show,” a local TV program. She becomes an overnight celebrity, a trendsetter in dance and fashion. With her new status as a teen sensation, can she beat out Corny’s reigning dance queen and bring racial integration to the show?

As always, Village’s set, sound, lighting, costumes, choreography and orchestra are all top-notch. But a shoutout goes to casting director Jessica Spencer. She couldn’t have selected a more talented cast. Not only can they sing, but, man oh man, can they dance. You’ll feel out of breath just watching the ensemble move from one ’60s dance craze to the next. Shaunyce Omar (Motormouth Maybelle) gets props for her pipes; Charles Simmons (Seaweed J. Stubbs) for his dance moves. Wow!

As for comedic timing, Callie Williams as Tracy is the winner here. All she has to do is give the audience a knowing look, and they burst out laughing.

I loved Williams in the number “I Can Hear the Bells,” where she’s singing to her crush, Link (Ethan Carpenter), the Elvis-channeling teenage hunk on “The Corny Collins Show.” Tracy has somehow managed to stop time and so maneuvers Link around the stage like he’s a life-size doll.

I also was moved by Nick Desantis’ performance as Edna Turnblad, Tracy’s mom. Beginning with Devine in the Waters movie, Edna is always played by a man. Desantis plays the role not like a man in drag, but as a woman and a mother. I really appreciated that. He makes a lovely woman.

Edmonds’ Busby, 20, makes his Village Theatre debut as Sketch, one of Corny Collins’ dancers. He also has performed in the 5th Avenue Theatre’s “Holiday Inn,” Rising Star Project’s “The Pajama Game,” “How to Succeed in Business” and “Carousel” and Village Kidstage’s “Pippin.”

As one of the Nicest Kids in Town, Busby’s character is joined by Amber (Tori Gresham), Brad (Jordan Jackson), Tammy (Carly Squires Hutchinson), Fender (John David Scott), Lou Ann (Jasmine Jean Sim) and Brenda (Claire Marx).

“Sketch is the carefree one,” he said. “He’s a super-senior, so he’s one of the older kids on the show. I’m actually one of the younger guys in the cast, so it’s kind of ironic. I’m 20 and they’re all in their 30s.”

Also in the cast are Becca Orts as Penny Pingleton, Tracy’s nerdy best friend; Beth Devries as Velma Von Tussle, the snobby and racist producer of “The Corny Collins Show” and mother of Amber; Belle Pugh as Little Inez, Seaweed’s kid sister; Jason Kappus as TV host Collins; and Peter Crook as Wilbur Turnblad, Tracy’s dad.

For long as he can remember, Busby has been acting. He said he feels fortunate to have attended Edmonds Heights for the strength of its musical theater program. The school was nominated for 5th Avenue Awards this year for its productions of “Working” and “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.”

Busby, who also is a model with Heffner Management, is working toward a bachelor’s in business administration at SPU — but that doesn’t mean he’s not interested in a stage career.

His favorite scene in “Hairspray”? It’s technically after the show’s over. The cast performs “You Can’t Stop the Beat” for the audience during the bows.

“It’s honestly the most fun part of the show because everyone is clapping and singing along,” he said. “The show’s almost over, so you’re throwing it all out there. It’s a really good time.”

Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046; sbruestle@heraldnet.com; @sarabruestle.


The Village Theatre production runs July 6-29 at the Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays. For tickets, call 425-257-8600 or go to www.villagetheatre.org.

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