The Voice of Sacred Hearts Academy

Ka Leo

Filed under Entertainment

More than just a can of ‘Hairspray!’

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Funky tunes, societal expectation and racial inequality are at the epicenter of the Saint Louis Center of Arts’ spring musical “Hairspray!”

Set in Baltimore during 1962, the musical focuses on plus-sized teen Tracy Turnblad as she lands a spot on the popular “Corny Collins Show” and, with the support of African-American dancers, works to integrate the program.

On stage at Mamiya Theatre, for Sacred Hearts Academy’s and Saint Louis School’s rendition of “Hairspray,” three wooden buildings sit smack-dab in the middle. To the far left stands an ironing board and laundry basket. The brilliantly simple setup, void of overly lavish decorations, served as a metaphor; the fewer things a production has on stage does not necessarily mean that the musical has little to offer its audience.

The theatre lights dimmed, signifying the start of the show. As they slowly illuminated, Tracy Turnblad, played by Academy senior Marlo Nettel, is revealed sleeping in her bed. Waking up with a bright smile, she throws off her blankets and begins the opening number “Good Morning Baltimore!”

I attended the March 18 showing to surprise my friend senior Tiani Quon, who played the Matron. I wanted to be there for her last high school musical. Moreover, “Hairspray!” is my favorite broadway production, so I knew that I would be in for a treat.

This musical defied my expectations by leaps and bounds. Or should I say, “by heels and tons of hairspray?”

The dance numbers were full of toe-tapping energy, while the catchy beats made some sway along in their seats. The props were also ingenious and further immersed the audience into the play. The wooden buildings used to open the scene also played as the background for “The Corny Collins Show” and the dressing room for “Mr. Pinky’s Hefty Hideaway.” To simulate the concept of a television show, the cast interacted with a drop-down screen and black-and-white camera that streamed the performance as they went through the scenes.

The vocal performances of the cast members, especially “Negro Day M/C” Motormouth Mabel, played by Academy junior Mahealani Sims-Tulba, were riveting and well-done.

The show ended with a standing ovation; the entire theatre roared with excitement and mystification.  

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The Voice of Sacred Hearts Academy
More than just a can of ‘Hairspray!’