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Lee High School to spray on the fun in “Hairspray”

“You can’t stop the beat.”  It’s a song from the musical Hairspray, but it’s also a philosophy for the Lee Lyric Theatre, who will be performing the show in the coming weeks.

While other schools’ doors are closed, the theatre at Lee High School has been open all summer this year, preparing for their very first summer show.

Director Melinda Lombardino said this show is special not only because it is the first summer musical produced by Lee Lyric Theatre.  It is also the first time Lee Lyric Theatre has opened up to the community.

Though Lee is hosting the show, roles were not restricted to Lee students.  Actors include students from Huntsville High, Grissom, Sparkman, Madison Academy, Bob Jones, and Decatur.

“It’s fun for me to see lots of kids from lots of places,” said Lombardino.

But the cast of this “community project,” as Lombardino calls it, isn’t limited to students, either.  A show like Hairspray allows for a diverse cast.

“It was a good suggestion,” Lombardino said.  “It is a white and African American cast.  There are adults and kids.”

23-year-old actor Erica Hansen plays the snobby TV station owner Velma Von Tussel.  She said working on the Hairspray has been “eye-opening,” especially from the point of view of her character, who she calls “the racist of the show.”

“I’ve never done a segregated cast – til the very last number, they don’t mix,” Hansen said.  “It reminds me that we have come a long way then from the time period from when the show is set [the 60s].”

Hansen is taking a break from touring nationwide with the musical Cats.  She is a Grissom High School graduate, and appreciated coming back to her hometown to work with the community theatre circuit she has been a part of since age 14.

“I remember being in high school – if you loved to do theatre, you want to do it year round, not just during the school year,” Hansen said.  “The fact that people are there because they love doing theatre is what makes the show very special.”

For Lee, the show has a sentimental value, as it will be the last Lee Lyric Theatre production in the school’s old theater, before Lee will move into its new building on Meridian Street during the December holiday break.

“This was just a cool way to involve the community in the closing of our history in this theatre,” Lombardino said.

There will be 7:30 showings on July 29 and 30 and August 4, 5, and 6.  There will be a 2:00 showing on July 31.  Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students, seniors, and military.  Tickets can be purchased ahead of time online at leemagnet.org or at the door.

Hairspray is an uplifting and vibrant musical, and a perfect opportunity to enjoy a show out of the sweltering summer heat.

There’s tons of dancing, bright colors,” Lombardino said.  “It’s upbeat, it’s constantly moving, and you’ll leave with a smile on your face.”

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