Before spring break, the Groton Drama program put on one of the largest ever produced at Groton: Hairspray. This fun-filled musical received many standing ovations and great reviews from the students, and it was an overall success.
The whole process started out with auditions which were, to say the least, very intense. Auditions were split up into two parts: the dance audition and the singing audition. Since the whole musical was essentially about dance, dancing was very important. Over seventy people tried out, so each person was given a number to wear on their stomachs, kind of like a real dance audition. Then, a choreographer from outside of Groton, Matt, came and taught a section of what would be part of the finale “You Can’t Stop the Beat.” After that, students went up onto the stage in smaller groups and performed what they had just learned – quite an intense process.
The show started out with a solo by the female lead Tracy Turnblad (Gen Corman ’14), “Good Morning Baltimore”. From there, the musical followed her story of her dream of dancing and making it on the Corny Collins’ Show (Corny Collins played by Cam Ayles ’15). After auditioning and getting cut due to the producer Velma VonTussle’s (Lily Edwards ’15) because of her size, Tracy makes some new friends in detention, Seaweed J. Stubbs (Ejaaz Jiu ’15) and Little Ines (Desiree Jones ’14). Then, she ended up meeting Link Larkin (Austin Stern ’14). Along with her best friend Penny Pingleton (Lilias Kim ’18) and Seaweed’s mother Motorhouse Maybelle (Adia Fielder ’17) Tracy tried to integrate the Corny Collins’ Show. They succeeded, and Tracy even beat her main competitor Amber VonTussle (Reed Redman ’14) in the Miss Hairspray competition.
The cast was an interesting mix of all forms and races to portray diversity, a theme in the show. Lilias Kim’ 18, who played Penny Pingleton, explained, “The hardest part was trying to be yourself amongst other older students and trying to remember everything that Ms. Sales gives you.” Lily Edwards ’15, who played Velma VonTussle, says, “My favorite part of rehearsing was probably getting to know new people. I got closer with so many people I probably wouldn’t get the opportunity to know otherwise. That’s one of the things I love most about being in shows.”
Laurie Sales, the director of Hairspray, thought that it was better than she expected it to be.” That was because of three reasons. Dance was an uncertain element, but the choreographer showed his talents. Additionally, the scenic elements were more complex and more detailed than the usual shows. Fun fact: the two large set pieces on either side of the stage rotated on about 900 golf balls that no one ever saw! Thirdly, the group dynamic was superb. According to Ms. Sales, “the cast kind of bonded on their own. They sort of had their own energy.”
Two members of the Cultural Alliance approached Ms. Sales last year and asked her to do this show because it addressed race issues that Groton was experiencing at the time. So all in all, it explored the social dynamic of race while bringing smiles to everyone’s faces. Simply a success.