In third consecutive year of presenting a summer musical, the cast, sets and music are bigger than ever—appropriate for , a show that revels in bright, bouncy excess.
“Every year you do the program, you just add a little element, and this year it was a bigger band, bigger set,” said director Micki Doherty. “I think it’s a show that you can’t stop smiling at the whole time.”
Following up on 2010’s Bye, Bye Birdie and 2011’s The Wiz, the Hairspray production features a cast of 46 and a nine-piece band. It also piggybacks off of a popular run at Drury Lane (they even borrowed a key end-of-play prop from the folks at Drury.)
For the uninitiated, the show is based off of the 1988 John Waters film with Ricki Lake, Sonny Bono and Divine. (The younger generation might better know the 2007 adaptation of the musical starring John Travolta and Zac Efron.)
Set against 1962 Baltimore, it’s the story of curvy white teen Tracy Turnblad’s attempt to join the cast of a popular TV show—and, when this improbably succeeds, to break through and stamp out the culture of racial discrimination that pervades the showbiz community, while also coaxing her reclusive mother out into the light and nursing a budding romance with a dreamy pop star.
In a tradition that goes all the way back to Divine’s performance in the 1988 film, said reclusive mother, Edna, is played by a man intentionally doing very little to conceal his masculinity. At Music Makers, that man is Danny Callaghan of Western Springs, a former Nazareth Academy linebacker who emphatically does not look like a middle-aged woman.
“It’s different!” laughed Callaghan, an entering freshman at the University of Iowa. “It’s fun ‘cause I like making people laugh, so it’s fun to joke around on stage, be the mom who’s very manly. It’s fun to mess around with the songs and stuff.”
For another performer, Tony Banda of Willow Springs, also an entering freshman at Iowa, the show is his first time ever participating in any type of theatre—but he landed a significant role as Seaweed, a local black dancer who romances Tracy’s best friend. A highlight: he gets his own song.
“Throughout high school, I was big into sports, never really even considered theatre,” Banda said. “But now I see why everybody liked it and why they stuck with it!”
Remarkably, the show was put together over just seven weeks, with rehearsals about three times a week.
“We’re a close cast,” said LT senior Mary Kate Maney of Western Springs. “We’ve worked a lot together, put a lot of hours in, and everyone’s very dedicated to what we’re doing… It’s an amazing opportunity to bond with people—there’s an incredible friendship. There’s nothing else like it.”
Hairspray is presented by Music Makers of Western Springs and will play at South Campus’ Performing Arts Center on July 12, 13 and 14 at 7:00 p.m. and also on July 14 at 2:00 p.m..