Gas Lamp Players champion the timeless themes of perseverance, acceptance and racial integration in Hairspray, with four performances February 9-11, 2018 at Ridgewood Avenue School in Glen Ridge. The Main Stage production features a diverse cast of 79 adults and teens from Essex County and surrounding areas.
“Hairspray gave us the opportunity to expand our creative team and cast, tapping into a broad pool of talented actors and nurturing relationships among new and seasoned Gas Lampers,” says Kristy Graves, Gas Lamp Artistic Director and Hairspray Music Director. “This particular story is just as important today as it was during the 1960s, the time period when Hairspray is set. The desire to tell this story, and the resulting energy onstage, is just incredible.”
Janeece Freeman Clark was brought on board to guest direct Hairspray. She introduced the Gas Lamp community to a number of young actors of color, with whom she works in other artistic director and voice instructor roles. “Theater is about bringing together people of different backgrounds, learning from one another, and finding commonalities,” says Clark.
Hairspray spotlights tenacious Tracy Turnblad, her family, friends and peers in 1962 Baltimore. Tracy yearns for black and white teens to dance together on the Corny Collins TV Show. Many of her contemporaries long for everyone to live together peacefully. Others do not. The characters’ lives are chronicled in high-energy songs including “Welcome to the 60s,” “Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now,” and “You Can’t Stop the Beat.”
The musical culminates in the gospel-style number “I Know Where I’ve Been,” sung by the character Motormouth Maybelle as she and Tracy lead a protest march to the TV station. “It reflects on the struggles of the past, but with the knowledge and hope that the only way forward is up,” concludes Clark.
In addition to Director Janeece Freeman Clark and Music Director Kristy Graves, Choreographer Elisa Van Duyne, Executive Producer Rennae Pelayo and Production Stage Manager Robin Spencer round out the creative/production team.
Performances are Friday, February 9 at 8 p.m., Saturday, February 10 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday, February 11 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10/student and $15/adult and available at the door or online at https://gas-lamp-players.ticketleap.com/hairspray/.
For more information, visit http://gaslampplayers.org.