WHAT: “Hairspray” the musical
WHERE: Village Square Theatre, 105 Caughman Road, Lexington
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 24-26 and Friday and Saturday, Oct. 2-3; 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 26-27 and Sunday, Oct. 4
“Hairspray” has been a cult-classic comedy since its theatrical release in 1988 by visionary writer/director John Waters, with Ricki Lake as Tracy Turnblad, the plus-size outcast-turned-dancing queen of “The Corny Collins Show,” and again in 2007 with John Travolta playing Tracy’s outspoken mother, Edna.
Now, for the first time in Lexington County, Lexington County Arts Association/Village Square Theatre will put on a two-weekend run of the show, directed by Debra Leopard.
Leopard is a 40-year veteran actress and director, having spent the past decade at Village Square directing such works as “Shrek,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” “The Sound of Music,” “The King and I” … and now, “Hairspray.”
“It’s something that our theater has wanted to do for quite a few years,” Leopard said of the musical. “I love the music. And the story is great. Having been born in the ’60s, it all hits home.”
Leopard wanted to keep the production as close to the eight-time Tony Award-winning show as possible.
“We have a really good choreographer who has done some really good period dance steps,” she said. “One of the songs is ‘Welcome to the ’60s,’ and that’s what it feels like when you watch it.”
Miranda Campagna plays the lovable Tracy, and true to form, Leopard cast a man, TJ Daley, to play the role of Edna.
“He actually played Shrek, so he’s a guy’s guy,” laughed Leopard. “Finding a wardrobe was a challenge – and pretty amusing. But that’s what I think is so cool. It just wouldn’t be the same without a man playing that role.”
It’s all accurately depicted from 1962. The costumes and the wigs … We’ve got a lot of big hair. It’s very period-appropriate: the costumes, set and props. I think it’ll be just what people are expecting.
Debra Leopard, director of “Hairspray”
Word has been spreading around town about the classic coming to the stage.
“There’s a lot of buzz out there, and we’ve sold a good many tickets, so that’s a good sign,” Leopard said. “It’s just such a fun show. I hope that a lot of people come see it and enjoy it.”
For those like Leopard who lived through the ’60s and witnessed the civil rights movement firsthand, the production also focuses on the not-so-glamorous side of the era.
“That’s the whole story – Tracy trying to get television integrated and the struggle of African-American people,” Leopard said. “Young people (today) just can’t wrap their minds around that, but there are a number of us in the cast that lived through it.”
Which is why Leopard is proud to bring “Hairspray” to Lexington.
“It’s a fantastic, talented cast, so I think people will just have a blast,” she said.
THE VIBE: Although some of the subject matter may be touchy, this past summer we saw how far we’ve progressed as a country. So go for the music, the dancing and the costumes and let the portrayal of 1960s racists roll like water off a duck’s back.
THE VERDICT: It’s been said that theater is supposed to make you think. If that’s the case, then this show is a triple threat: you get an education in music, dance and history. So don’t be all 1950s. Be progressive and check it out.
If you go
“Hairspray” at Village Square Theatre
TIME/DATE: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Sunday, Sept. 24-26 and Friday-Saturday, Oct. 2-3; 3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 26-27 and Sunday, Oct. 4
LOCATION: Village Square Theatre, 105 Caughman Road, Lexington
COST: $19 for adults; $17 for seniors, military, or students; $15 for ages 12 and younger