This semester, the theater department is presenting “Hairspray,” the popular musical set in the 1960s.
The protagonist is a hefty teen girl trying to make it in the world of television during a time of racial segregation and superficiality.
After producing Little Shop of Horrors last fall, Starr Garret, theater director, wanted to continue doing shows with greater appeal.
“We really wanted to do something big. We wanted to continue the momentum from ‘Little Shop’ and create a big draw to increase the amount of community involvement,” Garrett said.
After a turnout at auditions of over 50 people—from the community as well as CU students—it seems Hairspray was the right choice. After two days of singing, acting, and dance auditions the cast was chosen.
“There are over 30 cast members. This is the largest cast we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Garrett said. She has been theater director at CU for more than eight years.
While this level of involvement is exciting for the thetaer department it has also come with many challenges and putting on this show will bMudde a huge feat.
Thankfully, for Garret and her colleagues—who have been working on the show since March— the university granted the theater department a new space for a dance studio over summer break.
“Everyone involved is putting in over 30 hours a week dancing, singing, working on scene work, and designing and building the set,” Garrett said. “This show would not have been possible without the new theater studio, even with the new space we have to hold rehearsals onstage during set construction.”
Speaking of set construction, Matt Nall, assistant to the director, has a lot on his plate.
“The set is big and ambitious, and it all moves. We have special effects, we’re trying to use pyrotechnics and we will have an 11 foot tall functioning hairspray can big enough for a ‘man-sized lady’ to stand inside,” Nall said.
While all of this construction is taking place the cast is going to and from the theater and the dance studio where choreographer and adjunct professor, Nathan Allen, is hard at work.
This is Allen’s first time doing choreography for a CU production, however, he is not new to theater and dance. He choreographed “The Music Man,” which took place on CU’s stage, and directed “Midsummer Night’s Dream” in Lebanon over the summer. This is also his second semester teaching ballroom dancing.
“We are doing lots of dance numbers with no trained dancers, so I don’t know what to expect yet. But I’m excited to see everyone’s bars raised. It will be fun watching them meet the expectations put in front of them,” Allen said.
While the cast is dancing away they are also faced with the challenge of learning over two dozen song numbers under the musical direction of Matt Hodge, instructor of theater and fine arts.
This musical will be different than those in the recent past because the music will not be live, but instead will come from an instrumental soundtrack.
“It was a hard decision, but we decided that live music didn’t have a place in this show because it would feel too empty in comparison to the CD track with full instrumentals. You wouldn’t get the full sound,” Hodge said.
But Hodge believes that shouldn’t discourage anyone from coming out to see the show.
“The music is 1960s style, which audiences always enjoy because it is upbeat, rock-driven music that you can dance to,” Hodge said. “The 60s was a great decade of music in general. It’s just fun and makes you want to dance.”
Dakota Rogers, a senior playing the role of Corny Collins, said, “This show is going to take our department to a whole new level. It’s funny, entertaining musically, and people know the show really well. We’re going to do our very best putting on our version.”
After all of their hard work, time and effort put into producing this show for the community the department, cast and crew are hoping for a sell-out performance.
“If you look out at the audience and it’s full, it makes you feel good, like you’ve done something,” Rodgers said.
The show opens Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. in the Russ Mobley Theater and will also be presented on Oct. 12 at 8 p.m. ,Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. and Oct. 14 at 1:30 p.m.
If you can’t make it out to any of these shows there will be three more performances taking place in Hodgenville, Ky after Fall Break.
Wed, September 19, 2012
by Lacy Mudd