The cast of the Arts Association in Newton County’s production of “Hairspray” said audience members can expect to laugh, cry and be thrown back into the ‘60s for a time when integration was in full force and hairspray was everyone’s favorite accessory.
“Hairspray’s” leading lady Tracy Turnblad, played by 17-year-old Shannon Harper, initially got into acting and the arts association as she was preparing to enter high school.
“I went to go see the production of “Les Miserables” and I kind of fell in love with the cast and everyone who was involved and just joined by ninth grade year,” Harper said.
Turnblad’s love interest, Link Larkin, played by Quentin Davis Brooks, said he wants to make sure Larkin’s transformation throughout the show is evident.
“I wanted to make the character little bit more relatable, especially at the end. A little bit more human, because he sees his faults, he saw that he was very selfish, and I want to change that. I want to make sure that message is given, especially in production,” he said.
The two leading stars had one thing in common, they both cannot relate to their character’s overly-romantic tendencies. However, they both have a love for the characters they portray.
“The thing that I absolutely love about Tracy is she is fearless,” Harper said. “She isn’t afraid of what people think about her. She’s not afraid to just stand up and be herself. She’s always singing, she’s always in a happy mood and she’s always, always dancing.
“That drive and passion to be who she is and also she has a heart for what is right and she stands up and throws everything aside to like protest for integration; she wants to dance on TV with her friends no matter what their race is.”
Brooks said he most relates to his character’s change towards the end of the show.
“He kind of gets bonged in the head – just the message that everyone is and everyone can be who they want to be and it doesn’t matter if you’re popular or not.”
Andrew Fish, 18, who plays Edna Turnblad, said “Hairspray” is a special kind of show because it takes on several types of issues, including race, weight and social issues that were prevalent in the past but are still relatable today. Ava Jane Teasley, 16, who plays Amber Von Tussle, said those opinions on race and social issues is one thing she cannot relate to her character about.
However, Amari Forever Young, who plays Motormouth Maybelle, said she has found herself relating more and more to her character’s maternal tendencies throughout the show. Growing up with several younger siblings, it is easy for her to find similarities.
The cast is continuing to work on choreography and perfecting their songs up until show time next weekend.
“Hairspray” will be performed at the Porter Performing Arts Center, at 140 Ram Drive, Thursday, March 16, Friday, March 17 and Saturday, March 18 at 7 p.m. and the final show is set for Sunday, March 19 at 3 p.m.
“Hairspray” will feature members of the Oxford Acting Company and Oxford Youth Singers.
The Arts Association is a non-profit organization. The arts association solely relies on donations from individuals and corporations, as well as participants income fee. It does not receive any operational funding from city, county, state or federal government.
News Editor Jackie Gutknecht contributed to this report.