A delightfully comedic, as well as socially moving musical will be performed live by the Arena Fair Theatre this weekend.
The production of “Hairspray” will be presented not in 1960s Baltimore, but at the Merchants Building and the Coliseum located at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. The show runs Friday through Sunday, Nov. 3-5.
Created by American screenwriter and film director John Waters Jr., the show was first performed on Broadway in 2002, and has since then won numerous Tony, Drama Desk and Theater Awards here in the U.S. It’s also been performed in London and Australia.
The course of the musical follows the life of main character Tracy Turnblad, who dreams to be on a popular local TV show, “The Corny Collins Show.” When she wins a role on the show, however, Tracy becomes determined to integrate the show, using her newfound social influence and her friends to help succeed in her mission. The musical, packed with wit, catchy tunes, and a powerful message of equal rights, is both a beautiful glimpse of groovy blues music and the struggle for racial equality in the 1960s.
“This production is the main jewel of our seventh season as Delaware’s community theatre,” said Gregory Patterson, artistic director for Arena Fair. “We welcome a new wave of youth talent as well as many of the seasoned regulars of our previous seasons. But the center ring of this production will be the new location.”
Arena Fair “is pulling a major magic transformation by creating a theater at the Merchants Building at the Delaware County Fairgrounds,” Patterson said.
“Under the direction of the technical team of Tony Smith, that exhibition building will be transformed into a working theater with lights, dance floor, and sound for the lavish musical production,” he said. “Seating will include chairs and bleachers on a first come, first served basis.”
Notable actors and actresses include Francine Butler, who will play Motor Mouth Maybelle, Jamie Brando in the role of Velma Von Tussle, and choreographer Lee Webb.
“Hairspray tells a story about changes that took place in this country when I was a child,” said Butler. “I remember some of the breakthroughs that occurred in the integration of the entertainment, sports, and political arenas.”
Butler works as an intervention specialist at Hayes High School, and has been performing in theater since elementary school.
Butler has additional background as a choreographer and director in various dramas, films, and musical productions. She also previously toured with the dance company, Sounds in Motion, for several years.
When asked about her character Motor Mouth Maybelle, Butler stated that, “She is big, blonde, and beautiful! She loves all of the teens in the show, and wants them to have a better life than she did.”
Patterson said the cast includes young people from various local schools.
“The production stars talent from the surrounding four counties and includes new stars from Hayes, Buckeye Valley, Delaware Christian, Jonathan Alder, and the Olentangy high schools,” he said.
General admission seating costs $20 per ticket. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 3; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4; and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 5.
Sophia Englehart is an intern for The Delaware Gazette. She is a senior at Olentangy Liberty High School.