Friday’s capacity opening-night crowd enjoyed air-conditioned comfort and a whale of a performance of Hairspray, the Broadway Musical, as four giant tubes sucked heat and humidity out and four more returned cool air to the third-floor performance space at St. Patrick’s Club Building. A generous gift this week from Near West Theatre friend and Hairspray wig specialist David Cooper covered most of the costs of renting the cooling system for the eight-show run. Seated in the audience Friday, Cooper received cheers and applause as a spotlight found him and Executive Director Stephanie Morrison-Hrbek thanked him during her curtain speech.
There were many more such raucous moments of appreciation in the two-hours-and-a-half that followed. The urban-and-suburban cast of Near West’s 35th summer youth theater production unleashed a joyous, rambunctious and at times slightly bawdy version of this story about race, body image and the changing social mores of 1960s America. Tickets remain available for tonight’s 7:30 performance (Saturday, July 21). Buy online till 4 p.m. today and after that at the performance space, 3606 Bridge Ave., Cleveland, where the ticket table opens at 6:30 p.m. The show then runs two more weekends, through Aug. 5. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for children 12 and under. A $20 Star Seatgets you special benefits.