EDMT takes on ‘Hairspray’ this month

By February 9, 2011

BIG GIRLS — Braiden Wells and Helen Regula star as Edna and Tracy Turnblad in El Dorado Musical Theatre's "Hairspray." Courtesy photo

BIG GIRLS — Braiden Wells and Helen Regula star as Edna and Tracy Turnblad in El Dorado Musical Theatre's "Hairspray." Courtesy photo

Join El Dorado Musical Theater in celebrating all things big, beautiful and colorful in “Hairspray,” the musical adapted from John Waters’ 1988 movie.

EDMT will perform the show Feb. 25 through March 13 at the Jill Solberg Theater at Folsom High School.

“Hairspray” takes place in 1962 Baltimore, Maryland, where loveable, plus-sized teenager Tracy Turnblad’s dream is to dance on The Corny Collins Show, a local TV dance program based on the real-life Buddy Deane Show. When her dream comes true, Tracy launches a campaign to end racial segregation on the air, only to meet fierce opposition from the snobby Amber Von Tussle and her racist mother, Velma.

In addition to abundant hilarity and rich music, “Hairspray” is a striking social commentary on the injustices of parts of American society in the 1960’s.

The story initially debuted in 1988 as an uncharacteristically light-hearted satire on early ’60s pop culture from frequently campy filmmaker John Waters. Known for pushing thematic boundaries with abundant profanity, sex and violence in his previous films, Waters took a sweeter approach with “Hairspray,” which starred Ricki Lake as Tracy and the late drag queen Divine as Edna. The film received positive critical reception. A modest $8 million run at the box office was boosted exponentially with home video sales as the film quickly became a cult classic.

A Broadway musical production of “Hairspray” played from 2002-2009 with more than 2,500 performances. Memorable tunes include “Good Morning Baltimore,” “You Can’t Stop the Beat” and “Timeless to Me.”A musical film adaptation premiered in 2007, starring John Travolta and newcomer Nikki Blonsky as Edna and Tracy.

EDMT’s production of “Hairspray” has been a long time coming for the theater company. “We had tried to do Hairspray before … probably two years ago … but the rights weren’t available,” Marylou Keane, the show’s producer said. “When they became freed up, we jumped on it.

“We have an incredible cast. We let every group possible know that we were auditioning, so there was some very stiff competition for the lead roles.”

EDMT co-founder Debbie Wilson directs and choreographs the cast of performers between the ages of 13-22, including Helen Regula as Tracy Turnblad, Jonathan Cranmer as Link Larkin, Chris Meissner as Corny Collins and Braiden Wells as Edna Turnblad.

“There’s a ton of music in this show … more than any of us realized,” Wilson said.”

“Hairspray” is EDMT’s once-a-year audition-only production. Wilson called the audition process “grueling” due to an unprecedented amount of talent showing up.

“We had to make some tough decisions,” she said. “But we ended up with one of the best casts we could have ever hoped for. Helen is just perfect for Tracy … she’s absolute sunshine. She dances really well, and she sings like a banshee. And Braiden has worked very hard to keep the character of Edna lovely and feminine, without getting campy or over-the-top.”

Tickets for “Hairspray” are on sale now and can be purchased online at edmt.info or by calling the box office at (916) 941-SING.  Prices are $16 for students and seniors and $20 for general admission.

Andy Laughlin


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