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Fresh 'Hairspray,' but canned music

'Hairspray" at BroadHollow's BayWay Arts Center features some inspired cast choices by director-choreographer Jessy Waller. But inspiration can't make half a live show fully come alive.

My complaint regarding musicals staged without musicians is not new. A recorded score saps spontaneity from any show. An energetic, mostly young cast cavorting about to a rock and roll beat makes the lack of a band all the more egregious.

Yes, the story's about an early-'60s TV sock-hop, a la "American Bandstand," with kids dancing to hit 45s. But that's no excuse. The usually boisterous opening number, "Good Morning Baltimore," comes with a snooze button, despite the snappy effervescence of Meg O'Brien as Tracy, the plumpish teen with all the right dance moves. Scott Hofer, cross-dressing as her mom in another Harvey Fierstein role (Hofer played "Torch Song Trilogy" for BroadHollow), almost takes our mind off the karaoke-style accompaniment, especially on the "Timeless to Me" duet with her hubby (lovable ham Gary Milenko). Linda May vamps amusingly as racist former Miss Baltimore Crab. Brian Gill as Tracy's Elvis-like crush doesn't pass for a teen, but Keven Anthony Campbell as her detention buddy does. And he can dance, too.

He just needs a band.

WHAT "Hairspray," musical by Marc Shaiman, Thomas Meehan and Mark O'Donnell, based on John Waters' movie

WHEN | WHERE Friday and Saturday nights at 8, Sunday at 2:30 p.m., BroadHollow's BayWay Arts Center, 265 E. Main St., East Islip. Also Jan. 14- 29, BroadHollow Theatre at Elmont, 700 Hempstead Tpke.

INFO $14-$20, $25 at door; broadhollow.org, 631-581-2700, call or check online for Elmont ticket prices

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