The Pinelands Players will kick off its 71st year of community theatre with its biggest production ever. The popular am-dram troupe is very excited to be producing Hairspray in 2019. Based on the cult John Waters film, the musical adaptation features a book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan and a score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.
Originally founded as St Stephens Pinelands Repertory Society in 1948, the Pinelands Players have produced 143 plays, 43 musicals, 22 pantomimes, 12 supper theatres and nine Gilbert and Sullivan operettas in venues such as St Stephens Hall, The Little Theatre, the Artscape Arena and the Pinelands Town Hall.
The society’s goal has always been to ensure a healthy balance between new, unseasoned talent and experienced performers in order to develop performing skills, transfer knowledge and experience, and mitigate risk. Hairspray will feature a large cast of more than fifty performers, with many young and highly talented newcomers joining familiar faces in stage. Over the course of the run, four performances will feature understudies in principal roles.
Hairspray is set in Baltimore during the Civil Rights Movement. Tracy Turnblad, a quirky, plus-sized teenager with a plus-sized hairdo has a big dream to dance on the national television sensation, The Corny Collins Show. Her successful audition transforms her into a local celebrity, but she faces discrimination because of her weight, her choice in friends and her hairdo. Tracy becomes determined to use her influence to push for social change and racial integration in the show.
With memorable songs such as “Good Morning, Baltimore” and “You Can’t Stop The Beat,” the show is a feel-good comedy with a timeless message that everyone should be treated equally regardless of social, cultural and physical differences. Hairspray is the winner of eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Score, as well as four Laurence Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical. A film version, starring Nikki Blonsky, John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron, Queen Latifah, James Marsden and Christopher Walker, was released in 2007.
Neil Leachman will direct Hairspray, also serving as the production’s musical director. Although this is his first outing in these roles with the Pinelands Players, Leachman is no stranger to the am-dram circuit, having directed You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown in 2016 and The Producers earlier this year. Laura Bosman and Jared Schaedler will choreograph the production.
Hairspray runs at the Artscape Theatre from 2 – 16 February on Tuesdays through Sundays. Tickets, which range in price from R185 and R225, are available through Computicket.