News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 27, 2012

CT’s ‘Hairspray’ breaks down barriers

By Gail Hayes
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The smash Broadway musical “Hairspray” is colorfully coming to stage at Community Theatre of Terre Haute. It opens this Friday and continues through the weekend. Additional performances are Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 4-7. All performances begin at 8 p.m. except for the Sunday matinees, when show time is 2:30 p.m.

“Hairspray” tells the story of spunky teen Tracy Turnblad (Katie Graves), an oversized gal with big hair who yearns to make it as a member of The Council, the dance group on the afternoon Corny Collins (Brent Frazier) television show. It’s early 1960s Baltimore, and the Corny Collins show only allows African Americans on once a month. Heroine Tracy Turnblad is out to change people’s ideas about weight and integration at the same time.

“Hairspray” first hit the screen in 1988 as a comedy written and directed by John Waters. Ricki Lake played Tracy, with Divine playing her mother, Edna, a woman who hasn’t left her home in years because she doesn’t want to see anyone in her current, overweight state. The cult classic became a Broadway musical in 2002, with book written by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, lyrics by Scott Whittman and Marc Shaiman, and music by Marc Shaiman. In 2007, New Line Cinema released a film version of the musical, with Nikki Blonskey as Tracy and John Travolta as Edna.

The Community Theatre version of the musical, directed by board members Jeff Lorick and Judith Higgins Price, carries on the tradition of a male actor playing Edna. Josh Hoffman, who has acted and directed numerous times at Community Theatre, has taken on the role.

“John Waters started the tradition with the thought of acceptance of all people. The show has a great message for everybody – all ages, races and backgrounds will enjoy it,” Hoffman said.

Kevin Ward, who plays Tracy’s father, Wilbur, agrees. “This show is about community and creating a greater community,” he noted. “Every character undergoes a transformation.”

Wilbur, for example, has never been a joiner, but when he sees Tracy and Edna working for the greater good, he gets involved too. Penny Pingleton (Taryn Ashley) plays a big part in breaking down the racial barriers of her community when she falls for Seaweed J. Stubbs (Philip Childs) and defies her strict mother’s rules.

The ticket office is open this week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as well as one hour before show time. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students and adults.

Community Theatre is at 25th and Washington streets. Learn more at www.ctth.org or call the ticket office at 812-232-7172.