By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
Del Norte High’s first musical, “Hairspray,” will debut Friday and continue through next weekend.
The Broadway show that for its 2002 original production won eight Tony Awards including best musical, book and original score, will be performed in Del Norte’s Performing Arts Center, 16601 Nighthawk Lane in 4S Ranch. Shows are 7 p.m. this Friday, 1 p.m. this Saturday and 7 p.m. Friday, April 29; Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1.
Tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for students and $4 for Del Norte students with an ASB card.
Director Shaun Conde said he chose “Hairspray” because students expressed an interest and it requires a lot of girls. At this time there are more girls than boys in the drama department.
“I like it because it’s upbeat, it’s fun and the whole focus of the play is about equality and embracing people who are different,” Conde said. Topics addressed in the musical set in the 1960s are racism, segregation and judging people by their weight.
While racial segregation is not the issue it once was, Conde said the show still “speaks to us,” due to current social issues including “the gay marriage debate.”
“Hairspray” revolves around plump teenager Tracy Turnblad who dreams of dancing on “The Corny Collins Show.” After being selected, Tracy — played by freshman Coralys Munoz — uses her new celebrity status to integrate the show.
Conde said while the musical is written for a white and black cast, show creators instructed schools to include a program message asking the audience to use suspension of disbelief when the cast’s ethnic background varies instead of using offensive “blackface” make-up.
The show is written for a male to play Tracy’s mother, but Conde said he cast a female, Priya Bhat, as Edna Turnblad. Because few male students auditioned, Seaweed Stubbs is being played by a female, Riayn Harris.
Del Norte’s production is close to the 2007 movie version, Conde said. There are a couple extra songs and “we’ve toned down the script so it is completely a family show,” he said.
Munoz described Tracy as “a happy person with very big emotions who lets you know her feelings.”
While acting since sixth grade, Munoz said this is her first leading role. Though not a dancer, she said choreography is not her biggest challenge. Instead, it is kissing one of her best friends, Jonathan Lerum, cast as Tracy’s love interest, Link Larkin.
“To get over the psychology stuff my friends are helping me,” she said. “It’s been awkward for me.”
Junior Michael Altice, who has performed in school and church productions, said playing Wilbur Turnblad (Tracy’s father) is “tough because I do not know how adults talk and move. ... But my greatest challenge is trying to be a lovey-dovey husband with one of my friends.”
As for junior Helen Choi, who plays a supporting role, the show has been a learning experience since she choreographed the dances with Harris and Conde.
“I’ve done hip-hop dance since elementary school ... but I had to change my style, so it was hard making up moves,” she said.
Choi said she used the movie for inspiration, but because its steps were really fast and hard, she simplified them since many cast members have limited or no dance experience.
Cast members are Ashleigh Allison-Foss, Michael Altice, Fatima Askerova, Priya Bhat, Katelyn Cheng, Helen Choi, Sonia Elizondo, Arzell Enriquez, Riayn Harris, Austin Hurd, Jonathan Lerum, Coralys Munoz, Niki Narvaez, Cassidy Walker, Mackenzie Zakoor and Lydia Zenaye.
The chorus includes Montana Betts, Lauren Headley, Jenna Thurman and Gretchen Trupp.
Crew members are Nicola Kayton and Nicole Schouten, with Robert Clark in charge of sound.