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Big laughs, bigger message in LMP’s ‘Hairspray’

MADISON – Bouffant-ed hairstyles, bodacious personalities and a brilliant message combine in “Hairspray,” Lyrique Music Productions’ summer musical.

Set in 1962 Baltimore, “Hairspray” shows lovable, plus-sized Tracy Turnblad vying for her one wish … to dance on the “Corny Collins Show.” With her friends’ help, Tracy gets her wish but faces jealous wrath of teen queen Amber Von Tussel. Unabashed, Tracy and her entourage fight to integrate the Collins show.

“Self-image and racial inequality are still very much issues in our present age. We all still have a ways to see beyond our size, shape and color of our skin,” Luz Ladrillono said. Ladrillono and Gianna Gimenez are directors.

“We should be free to love who want for who they are … for love is to be shared with everyone. TV used to be black and white but now comes in multi-colors. Equal opportunity for all,” Luz Ladrillono said.

“Hairspray” won eight Tony awards, including “Best Musical.” The show’s popular songs are “Welcome to the 60s,” “You Can’t Stop the Beat” and “I Know Where I’ve Been.”

Gizelle Ysalgue (and Raegan Masterson as alternate) portrays Tracy Turnblad. Eric Kress appears as Edna Turnblad; Jennifer Simmons (Motormouth Maybelle), Christopher Gunner (Corny Collins); Heidi Crane (Velma Von Tussle); Art Walthall (Wilbur Turnblad); Basia Marotta (Penny Pingleton); Cameron DuVall (Link Larkin); Olivia Hendrick (Amber Von Tussle); McKinley Harris (Seaweed J. Stubbs); and Kendall Snodgrass (Lil Inez).

The ensemble features about 40 more actors.

“Teens in our show dedicate a lot of their summer break to rehearsing and performing. We try to be understanding about family vacations, but it’s still a lot of time that they commit to the show,” Gianna Gimenez said. “They have a lot of fun doing it!”

“They meet students from all over the area who are stars of their own schools’ shows, dancers meet dancers from other studios, and they make friends with cast members of all ages. Older and more experienced cast members become natural mentors for newer ones. It’s a big commitment, but most of them find it very worthwhile … because they often come back for the next summer’s show,” Gianna Gimenez said.

The directors’ challenge has been highlighting “amazing talent” in a huge cast, Luz Ladrillono said. “In rehearsals, if they looked to their left and right, most likely, that person played lead in their school or local production. The magnitude of talent in one space is overwhelming for a director.”

The staff includes Music Director Newt Johnson; Technical Directors Lynn Broad, Tom Prohaska; Producers Michelle Hilbert, Amy Brooks, Robert Ladrillono; Choreographer Elena Gimenez; and Assistant choreographer Anna Hebert.

Guest choreographers included Nikki Ahlf, Brianna Caudle, Nolen Gunner and McKinley Harris.

“Hairspray” will be presented at Lee High School Mainstage, 2500 Meridian St. N., Huntsville. Show times are July 21-22 and July 26-29 at 7 p.m., along with matinees at 2 p.m. on July 22 and 29 and at 2:30 p.m. on July 23 and 30.

Tickets are $20 and available at 256-417-0593 and lyriquemusicproductions.org.

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