This year Chattahoochee High School’s drama department has taken on the task of performing “Hairspray” as the spring musical. When Jennifer Blevins, the chorus teacher, and Haley Walter, the drama teacher, first sat down to choose this year’s musical, they considered issues that are prevalent today, as well as throughout history.
“Hairspray” is set in 1962 and revolves around the concept of race and body image issues. Considering that people deal with these problems, it appeared that the musical was an appropriate opportunity to bring them to light. In order to depict these issues the way they truly are, they sat down with the school’s black history club president and had a Q&A to discuss “the racial issues that are being dealt with today in conjunction with what the characters in “Hairspray” are dealing with,” said Walter.
In order to successfully procure a production which properly gives justice to such a widely-known plotline, the cast and directors had to begin preparing early. Due to the fact that the play was so high energy, conditioning was offered to anyone planning to audition. One of the main actors in the production, Willis Hao (SR), told us that beginning in October, students would “run with the teachers at the track, eventually progressing to singing while they ran.”
Soon after, the students began working with choreographers for the dancing and Ms. Blevins for the singing, rehearsing every day after school for two, sometimes three hours. There was a standard to be met that came with attempting to successfully recreate such a widely respected musical, so everyone involved had to give it their all from start to finish.
The good news is, it was well worth it. “Hairspray” was not only lively and energetic, but equally heartfelt and meaningful as well. From beginning to end, each person in the room would agree that the production was decidedly funny, while still managing to convey a strong message about racial equality and body image. There were moments where it was difficult to hold back the tears, whether they be from laughter or crying.
Emily Simes (SR) played the lead role of Tracy Turnblad, successfully captivating the audience with her strong vocals and acting skills. Willis Hao (SR) took on the major role of Edna, Tracy’s mother, constantly making the audience break into endless bouts of laughter. Each character was played extremely well; even their mannerisms were similar to the original actors. The soundtrack was phenomenal, specifically the emotional recreation of “I Know Where I’ve Been,” and the energetic grand finale, “You Can’t Stop the Beat.”
What it all comes down to is that performing a rendition of Hairspray, and performing it well, is not an easy task. However, Chattahoochee’s drama department took the challenge head on and managed to create a musical that stayed true to the original while also putting their own creative spin on it.