Ad Spot

‘Hairspray’: Dance and music with a message

By Lorenzo Salinas

l.v.salinas@panews.com

 

A social revolution becomes fun and dance-worthy as local theater actors put on their best mod dresses and step back to the 1960s.

Port Arthur Little Theatre is getting set to debut its first-ever production of the American musical “Hairspray” this weekend at its location on 4701 Jimmy Johnson Blvd.

The musical is one that celebrates integration, friendship and the ability to be one’s own self no matter what others may say.

 

Show with a message

Director Debbie Pletcher said the show revolves around the exploits of a teenage girl who starts a movement for social change at the local dance program.

“‘Hairspray’ is set in 1962 Baltimore and follows an overweight girl named Tracy Turnblad who is an outcast and she wonders why everyone can’t get along,” Pletcher said.

Tracy’s dream in life is to perform on The Corny Collins Show, something akin to American Bandstand back in the day.

Pletcher said the play sports a very diverse cast in which Tracy rallies everyone together to protest and promote integrated TV.

“It’s comedy, but it has a deeper meaning,” she said.

 

Playing the lead

McKenna Bradford and Bree Cloud both play the lead role of Tracy. They remarked on the character’s appeal to them.

“It has to be her acceptance of everyone,” Bradford said. “She doesn’t see the differences in everybody; she sees what brings us all together.”

“I love her outlook on life,” Cloud said. “She has big dreams, she loves dancing and she is trying to integrate everyone in the show.”

“I have been trying to do the show for a while now,” Pletcher said. “It’s a fun show with meaning. There are so many issues it deals with that even in the country today — especially in the country today — it’s very topical.”

Such issues or themes include freedom of expression, racial prejudice and social change.

“Music unites everyone in the end,” Pletcher said. “I think it’s a good message.”

 

Good to be bad

Even the villain or antagonist seems to be a role enjoyed by those playing it.

Jillian Fontenot plays Amber, the girl who would do almost anything in order to win.

“She is the queen bee of The Corny Collins Show. If she doesn’t get her way, she’ll let you know it,” Fontenot said.

Fontenot describes her character not necessarily as the villain but rather the antagonist. Amber would storm off the stage if she feels upstaged — in particular by main character Tracy.

“During the scene, she feels that Tracy is stealing her thunder,” Fontenot said. “So, it would be me and my mother, Ms. Velma, against her.”

Madyline Rogers, however, would call Amber a villain — and a fun one at that. She too plays Amber.

“It’s my first time playing a villain onstage and I like it,” Rogers said. “It’s fun to be mean.”

 

High turnout

The turnout for “Hairspray” has been notably high for a play in PALT.

“I’m so excited because it’s one of the first times we have had such a huge turnout from the African American population to audition,” Pletcher said. “We probably have about 36 people in the cast… Overall, we had over 95 people turn out to audition.”

Pletcher also said “Hairspray” will be the very first show for a lot of the actors and actresses involved.

She admitted that having so many people new to theater could be a challenge at times, but that it was mitigated by everyone’s positive attitudes.

“We’ve had auditions since Memorial Day,” Pletcher said. “We’ve had strictly musical rehearsals and choreography rehearsals and we’ve managed to put it all together.”

Pletcher said she would like everyone who comes to the show to walk away with two things: “1.) I want it to make them feel good and smile. 2.) I want it to make them want to dance.”

 

Dates and times

“Hairspray” starts at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 2:30 p.m. Sundays. It will run the weekends of July 27, Aug. 3 and Aug. 10.

For reservations, call 409-727-7258. Tickets cost $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, active military and teachers and $10 for students.

Entertainment

PNG’s “Descendants” closing out 2020-21 season with performances today & Tuesday

Local

DPS: Vidor motorcyclist killed after crashing while running from area deputies

Local

Judge Brad Burnett recognizing high school students Jakelin Manzo & Linh Nguyen as Shining Stars

Local

American Air Systems providing community resident with free HVAC system this week

Local

See how much Texas gas prices jumped in a month

Beaumont

6-year-old killed in ATV/pedestrian crash; police investigating

Local

Police identify man shot, killed Friday night as a Port Arthur resident

Groves

Raquel Ochoa named Groves Mother of the Year

Groves

Police: Groves man robbed, pistol-whipped 81-year-old man

Education

Janet Cline honored for lifetime commitment to students

Local

See which Port Neches properties set for demolition, receive chance for redevelopment

Columns

STEPHEN HEMELT — Real work begins now that voters approved parks upgrade

Local

Local police chiefs talk open handgun carry law

Local

Port Arthur LNG potential decision delay detailed

Local

Police: Arrest made after Nederland pizza joint fights leaves victim bloodied

Education

Port Arthur education leaders talk campus return need

Local

Health department director, staff recognized for work during pandemic

Beaumont

Aggravated assaults, drug charges lowlight Jefferson County indictments

Education

Nederland ISD providing summer breakfast, lunch for kids

Local

Religion Briefs: Church plans special Mother’s Day event

Groves

Area seniors selected for Christus All-Star Classic

Local

Man found shot Friday night in Port Arthur, homicide investigation ongoing

Local

PAPD: $4K in crack seized, arrest made in Port Arthur

Business

ON THE MENU — The Golden Cup prepares for expansion, full cafe service