Union Pines Stage Offers 'Hairspray'
Union Pines Stage Presents 'Hairspray'
Students at Union Pines held dress rehearsals for their spring production, "Hairspray," before opening night Friday, March 11.
Each year, Union Pines theater teacher Judy Osborne faces a difficult task: choosing the musical for her charges to undertake.
Osborne has to consider the quality of singing, acting and dancing, as well as what musicals have been done in the past. After talking with Cathy McCanless, the choral director, she made her decision. The Union Pines Stage would put on “Hairspray” for its 2011 musical.
“Our last few shows have been more traditional musical styles,” Osborne says. “More importantly, we feel our stage should represent our school, and this show helps to make that happen. Mrs. McCanless and I are very excited about the ethnic diversity that the production requires.”
“Hairspray,” set in 1962, centers on Tracy Turnblad, “a very confident person who has a love for life and can dance,” says Sara Simmons, the Union Pines sophomore portraying the role. Tracy and her best friend, Penny, are fans of “The Corny Collins Show,” a teen dance program broadcast in the girls’ hometown of Baltimore, Md. The problem with “The Corny Collins Show” is that it is segregated, and Tracy sets out on a mission: She will desegregate her favorite show, and she will dance on it as well.
“I love how ‘Hairspray’ shows how different people, whether they are different because of their color or their size, fight to be accepted and then succeed,” says Simons.
“Hairspray” has a large, diverse cast, and finding the right student for the right role requires a lot of thought and consideration.
“Mrs. McCanless and I cast the principal roles first,” Osborne says, “and then we held a dance audition to cast the ensembles. We want the best actor for each role, and we consider the physical requirements of the role, as well as the acting, singing and dancing ability of each performer. It is a huge puzzle that takes us hours of time to put together.”
Nolan Lea has the challenging role of Edna Turnblad, Tracy’s mother. As John Travolta did in the screen version, Lea is portraying a character whose gender is opposite of his. Wearing a wig and panty hose is the least of his concerns, however.
“Remembering all the lines and songs and dance moves is a challenge,” Lea says.
Like Sara Simmons and Judy Osborne, Lea initially was drawn to the story.
“I really like how the story line tells you that no matter what you look like, as long as you have talent and believe in yourself, you can do anything you put your mind to,” he says. “So when I found out Mrs. Osborne chose ‘Hairspray’ this year, I was, like, ‘Yes!’”
As a Dynamite dancer, Tawana Woodard feels like “a member of the Supremes,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to be in a musical at Union Pines, and the background of ‘Hairspray,’ both racially and culturally, really caught my attention. Plus, I’m in love with the music and dancing from that time period.”
Woodard wanted to take part in the play because of its time frame.
“That era in history is very important to my culture,” she says.
The musical numbers have the cast very excited.
“‘I Know Where I’ve Been’ is a favorite because it’s such a powerful piece,” Osborne says. “I love the humor in ‘You’re Timeless to Me’ and the spectacle of ‘You Can’t Stop the Beat.’”
Sara Simmons looks forward to “Without Love” because “I feel like that song is the one that I have the most fun with, plus I think the ‘couples dancers’ are really cute.” Tawana Woodard prefers “Big Doll House” because of its “jazzy sound.”
All involved with the production point to how much fun it is.
“It’s just family fun,” Lea says, “that will have you singing all the way home.”
Judy Osborne agrees.
“This show is pure fun,” she says. “It has a great message too, but mostly it’s just pure fun.”
For Simmons, “Hairspray”‘s message is the reason the community should come see the show.
“It’s about our society and how we treat each other,” she says, “and I think that everyone who comes to watch will enjoy the energy we put on stage.”
“Hairspray” is playing Friday, March 11, and Saturday, March 12, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, March 13, at 3:30 p.m. at Union Pines High School. Ticket prices are $12 per person.
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