DAVIDSON – Integration. Community School of Davidson’s upcoming annual Summerstock production, “Hairspray,” incorporates integration in every sense of the word.
Set in Baltimore, Md., during the 1960s, the campy, heartfelt musical “Hairspray” is a historic portrayal of the integration of culturally segregated black and white students of the time.
Now, more than 50 years later, CSD’s production of the play integrates talented thespians of high schools from Charlotte to Statesville, including the nearby communities of Mooresville, Davidson, Cornelius and Huntersville. The story develops around Mooresville High’s Katherine Durgin who plays Tracy Turnblad, a quirky, plus-sized teenager who dreams of dancing on the “Corny Collins Show.” Following a series of events, Tracy eventually finds a way to advocate for racial integration on the show.
Known for her propensity to incorporate large numbers of adults and students in her annual summer productions, this time, Director Melissa Ohlman-Roberge raises the bar, bringing together a cast of 62 racially diverse singers and dancers – only five of whom are adults.
Producing “Hairspray” is a longtime dream for Ohlman-Roberge.
“It fits the model for the kind of show for adults and youth, especially strong teenagers,” she said.
“We had a great turnout from Northwest (School of the Arts),” Ohlman-Roberge recalled with delight. “Those kids can really dance.”
Lake Norman has witnessed the kind of talent developed at Northwest School of the Arts, having watched the versatile Rixey Terry hoof and sing on local stages over the years. This time Terry, who just received the best supporting actor Blumey Award at the Blumenthal high school musical awards for his role in “Big Fish,” will be assistant to the talented choreographer Emily Hunter for “Hairspray.” Musical Director Matt Hinson is assisted by Brad Fugate.
Familiar figures on the ArtSpace stage at CSD include Corny Collins, portrayed by Steven James. Tracy’s dorky best friend, Penny, is played by Camryn Duckworth. The racist producer Velma von Tussle is portrayed by Jenna Tyrell. Gino Pietroantoni has the dual roles of Harriman Spritzer and the Principal. Tracy’s father is played by Kevin Roberge, while Matt Kenyon portrays Edna, Tracy’s mother in drag, as called-for in the script.
Sophie Teague plays the bratty dancer Amber; Griffin Digsby is the hip, kind-hearted black dancer Seaweed; and Amya Harris is his sister, Little Inez. Natasha Wall portrays Motormouth Mabel, Seaweed’s mother; and Link Larkin, the teenage heartthrob who falls in love with Tracy is portrayed by Grayson Phillips.
As the director, Ohlman-Roberge’s motto for her thespians is to “have fun and do good theater.” In fact, weeks of rehearsals have produced “a lot of sharing, musical opportunities and plenty of high flying.” The dancers are impressive.
Seaweed’s crew of dancers include AJ White, Ananda Jones, Anthony Neal, Ashani Smith, Brandon Barber, Brooke Watts, Cynalah Stephenson, Ivy Montague, Jordon Taylor, Kamerin Oliver, Keyon Pickett Jr., Rayna Allen and Tim Thomas.
Tracy’s neighbors are: Bridget Delaney, Chrissa Weir, Ella Griffin, Ellie Marcus, Eric Pace, Harrison Kendall, John Pace, Jonah Staskel, Libby Helms, Maya Schadner, Mya Logan and Sahara Zion.
Crews of the Nicest Kids include several familiar hoofers at ArtSpace, like Hannah Roberge, Emma Metzger, Holly Springate, Austin Flewell and Patrick Weeks. Dancers also include Caitlin Ormond, Hannah Puryear, Helena Dryer, Jordan O’Sullivan, Lindsay Flewell, Oliva Harbin, Jonathan Long, Peter Quinn, Andrew Stepanek, Griffin Dubensky, Jack Humphries, Lucas DeVore and Michael Chilcoat.
“Hairspray” opens Wednesday, June 20 for a run through Sunday, June 24.