Port To­bacco Play­ers to present ‘Hair­spray’ this month

John Wa­ters’ clas­sic themes and mes­sages still rel­e­vant today

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: Tif­fIndyNews

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.

STAFF PHOTOS BY TIF­FANY WAT­SON

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.

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