The pun options with "Hairspray" and "Grease" running at the same time are almost endless. Now all we need is a production of "Hair" to complete the musical story of the '60s.
It's fascinating that the tales are so similar yet different. John Waters' "Hairspray" is the tale of Tracy Turnblad, an awkward-looking teen outcast filled with confidence and moxie. The outcast of "Grease" is Sandy, a pretty princess who eventually changes herself to fit in with her peers. Tracy sets out to change her community, not herself.
The original, nonmusical film version of "Hairspray" launched the career of Ricki Lake and spiked John Waters from quirky cult filmmaker into the mainstream when the surprise summer hit opened in 1988.
Top Seabury Hall dancers will perform “Nani Kamakura” for the National High School Dance Festival in Philadelphia.
Photo provided by Seabury Hall
Cera Souza takes on the role of Tracy in the Maui premiere of "Hairspray" at Baldwin High School. There are two stories happening in the production, but in many ways it's really the story of John Waters and childhood friend Divine. Tracy desperately wants to dance on the Corny Collins show, Baltimore's answer to Dick Clark and "American Bandstand." In the musical version it's Velma Von Tussle (Julianna Scharnhorst) who rejects her for being too fat. The character of Velma was originated by Debbie Harry and reprised by Michelle Pfeiffer in the 2007 musical film version.
Divine was born Harris Glenn Milstead. People Magazine's "Drag Queen of the Century" began working with John Waters' local theater troupe in conservative Baltimore in the mid-1960s. It took Waters and Divine almost 20 years to be accepted by mainstream Hollywood with "Hairspray." Divine's Edna Turnblad (Kenny Komatsu), Tracy's mom, has become an iconic character and, in a somewhat backward way, a symbol of women's rights. Edna has gone on to be portrayed by Harvey Fierstein, Michael Ball and John Travolta (another "Grease" coincidence). The unwillingness of Divine and Waters to change their artistic style became their strength. Waters' films are like no others; society changed to appreciate them.
The flip side of "Hairspray" addresses segregation and the civil rights movement of the early '60s. Blacks are not allowed to dance on the Corny Collins Show (Baldwin alumni Chris Kepler and Francis Tau'a share the role of Corny Collins), except for once a month on Negro Day. "I wish every day could be Negro Day," says Tracy. Her black classmates and new friends reply, "It is, at our house." Tracy's friends teach her new dance steps, which eventually land her on the show and the chance to dance with "The Nicest Kids in Town." Fame finally comes Tracy's way, but she can't enjoy it because the other outcasts are still on the outside.
"Hairspray" also tackles the interracial relationship of Tracy's best friend, Penny Pinkleton (Erica Hirose), and her beau, Seaweed (TJ Idemoto). The team of collaborators that adapted the original film focuses on the spirit of change in the '60s with "Welcome to the 60s" and "You Can't Stop the Beat." What separates "Hairspray" from "Grease" is embracing the coming dawn of change, time marches forward and you can't stop it. If you're weird like Tracy, Divine and John Waters, just be patient and march forward with confidence. It's not you; it's them.
n Baldwin High School Performing Arts Learning Center and Baldwin Theatre Guild present "Hairspray" at the school auditorium through March 11. Directed by Linda Carnevale and choreographed by Andre' Morissette, with musical director Gary Shin-Leavitt and orchestra director Stephen Rodrigues. Performance includes music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Whittman and Shaiman, and a book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan, based on the 1988 John Waters film. Performances include Friday at 7 p.m. (7 p.m. March 9); Saturday at 7 p.m. (1 and 7 p.m. March 10); and 5 p.m. Sunday (2 and 7 p.m. March 11). Tickets are available at the door only: $12 for adults, $9 for seniors and $7 for 17 and younger. The box office opens one hour before showtimes; seating begins half hour prior to the show.
Seabury Hall dance director David Ward is preparing to take his top student performers on tour to Philadelphia to perform at the National High School Dance Festival, starting Monday through March 12. They will perform "Nani Kamakura," an original hula choreographed by Maui kumu hula Uluwehi Guerrero. "Nani Kamakura" honors the many ties between the two Pacific cultures of Hawaii and Japan, a relationship that began with the Hawaii arrival of the Japanese contract laborers in 1895. The trip will be Seabury Hall Dance Ensemble's fifth visit to the prestigious annual festival and the fourth time that the Seabury dancers have been selected to perform. "This is a huge honor and privilege for our kids," says Ward. "Not only will our dancers be participating in all the amazing classes and lectures for students, they have once again been selected to perform. It is a great honor for us to present this gorgeous and sophisticated hula on a national stage."
Also this week
Don't miss "The Mousetrap," a murder mystery play by Agatha Christie, continuing through March 17 at the ProArts Playhouse. Shhh, it's a theater tradition to keep the ending a secret. Directed by Kristi Scott and featuring Rose Roselinsky, Dale Button, Mark Collmer, Jennifer Rose, Christopher Rose, Dylan Bode, Felicia Chernicki and Francis Tau'a.
* "The Mousetrap" plays at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. Two performances have just been added for March 16 and 17 at 7:30 p.m. Reserved seats for adults are $20; students 18 and younger are $15. Ask about the ProArts $15 Kama'aina Night tonight with valid Hawaii ID. For reservations or more information, call 463-6550 or visit proartspacific.com.
"The Cherry Orchard" by Anton Chekhov at Seabury Hall continues through Sunday. The play follows an aristocratic Russian family and its cherry orchard estate just before it is auctioned to pay the mortgage. The student cast includes Celina Bekins, Gabrielle Bega, Laura Mayron, Gregory Saydah, Zeb Mehring, Ryan Noufer, Carter Umetsu, Allie Moskow, Taka Tsutsui, Brendan Wilson, Wyatt West, Danielle Ferrer, and Cassidy Ross. Directed by Todd Van Amburgh.
* "The Cherry Orchard" performs at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday with the final show at 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $11 for adults, $9 for seniors and $5 for students. For tickets or more information, call 573-1257.
"Our Time," an original musical revue, continues through Saturday. The Kamehameha Schools Maui has put together a show featuring vignettes from "Voices from the High School," "Yearbook," "Sammy Carducci's Guide to Women" and "Looking for Corky Johnson" along with songs from "Fame," "Anyone Can Whistle" and "Merrily We Roll Along." Director Alexis Dascoulias teams with choreographer Aly Cardinalli and musical director Tana Larson.
* "Our Time" plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Kamehameha Schools Maui campus in Pukalani. Admission is free, and reservations are not required.