Port Tobacco Players to present ‘Hairspray’ this month
John Waters’ classic themes and messages still relevant today
The Port Tobacco Players, Inc. are bringing the sassy and curvy musical character Tracy Turnblad to the Charles County area and she’s tackling issues such as race equality, discrimination and prejudice, throughout the 1988 musical remake of “Hairspray.”
“Hairspray,” now showing at Port Tobacco Player Theater, tells the story of teenager Tracy who wants nothing more than to dance on the “Corny Collins Show,” but has to fight against prejudice from all directions. The musical takes place in the city of Baltimore and the year is 1962. When Tracy’s dream of dancing on the popular “Corny Collins Show” comes true, she is transformed from social outcast to television dance star. Tracy uses her confidence and unique personality to win the affections of her crush, Link Larkin, played by Taylor Scott Hines, and integrate an entire television network.
“Hairspray” is produced by Laurie Mudd and directed by Suzanne Donohue, based on the New Line Cinema film written and directed by John Waters in 1988 starring Ricky Lake. Waters is a native Baltimore resident who rose to fame in the late 1970s.
According to director Suzanne Donohue, the musical is mind-blowing and the audience will instantly fall in love with the lead, Emily Gilroy, as Tracy Turnblad.
“Tracy helps remind people that we must stick up for what is right and characters like Motormouth Maybelle assure us that we need to keep pushing, even when we get knocked down. Even though she faces adversity and struggle, Tracy doesn’t let her ever positive view of the world become jaded. Gilroy brings this bright, wonderful, sweetness, to the role of Tracy, that’s just adorable,” Donohue said.
Gilroy said Tracy’s confidence, bubbly personality and can-do attitude, will help show younger girls that they are beautiful and they do not need to be the most popular beauty queen to stand out.
“I always loved the musical, ‘Hairspray,’ since I was a little girl. I always loved the message that it promoted for plus-sized girls and people of color. It also promotes unity and I hope it makes people understand that there is no difference between us, size nor color,” Gilroy said.
Charles Watley, who plays Seaweed J. Stubbs, said the audience will get to witness firsthand a lot of the difficul- ty and complications that segregation and integration caused with television, relationships and neighboring communities.
“This musical is perfect for such a time like this. It has a great message, socially, culturally and politically, with the issues that are happening in Baltimore, from last summer to now. The music in this show puts everybody on the same accord regardless of race and I love the message,” said ac- tress Frankee Brown, who plays Motormouth Maybelle.
Melody Bishop said she witnessed a similar culture shock to that of her character, Penny Pingleton, having been a Carroll County native who recently moved to the Waldorf area. Bishop said Waldorf is a more diverse environment and has enjoyed working with such a diverse cast.
“This musical is an ode to anyone who has ever been the outsider,” Bishop said.
According to the cast, one character that will certainly left her mark on the audience is Tracy’s mother, Edna Turnblad, played by La Plata resident Quentin Nash Sagers. Sagers said he has always wanted to play the role of Edna Turnblad since he first saw drag persona, “Divine,” or Harris Glenn Milstead, star in the original “Hairspray” musical. Sagers said Divine and his own mother, were a major influence for his new role.
“John Waters is a crazy genius and one interesting message in this musical is that gay men can also play the female lead,” Sagers said. “It’s also good that the musical will open up conversations about big issues that we see, even today. It’s a big political year and I think ‘Hairspray’ is still political but fun because it’s a message with a little sparkle too.”
Visitors can catch “Hairspray” for four weekends, from April 1 to 24, on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m. The cost is $18 for adults, $15 for senior citizens, students, and military.
Local residents can now catch The Port Tobacco Players production of ‘Hairspray’ at the Port Tobacco Players Theater in La Plata, April 1 to April 24. The show stars Emily Gilroy as Tracy Turnblad, Quentin Nash Rogers as Tracy’s mother, Edna Turnblad, Frankee Brown as Motormouth Maybelle and Taylor Scott Hines as Link Larkin.
Quentin Nash Sagers plays, Edna Turnblad, Tracy Turnblad’s mother, in the remarkable musical, “Hairspray,” performed by The Port Tobacco Players April 1st to April 24th.
“Hairspray” cast-mates Emily Gilroy as Tracy Turnblad and Taylor Scott Hines as Link Larkin at center stage on March 28.