The show, which is being produced by Must Come See Productions, the production arm of the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Arts Chorale, will run until July 8. It is based on the classic the 1988 John Waters film of the same name, with music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman and book by Mark O’ Donnell.
The musical is set in Baltimore, Maryland 1962, in a time where segregation was still a poignant issue, and the script follows the main character, Tracy Turnblad whose upbeat personality and vivaciousness wins her a coveted spot on the local television dance programme, The Corny Collins Show. She is an instant hit and becomes a star virtually overnight. As the show progresses, Turnblad wins hearts and rocks the social landscape with her turn-of-the century ideas on camaraderie and equality for all.
It has been described as a celebration of 1960s “downtown” rhythm and blues, and is a song and dance satire of the injustices dealt to parts of society during that time, and highlights themes of racial division and healing.
Playing the lead role of Tracy Turnblad in this local production will be the talented Adafih Padmore. Acting alongside her are the incomparable Debra Boucaud-Mason as the incorrigible Velma Von Tussle; Paula Hamilton who acts as Turnblad’s arch-rival, Amber Von Tussle; Kearn Samuel as the show’s heartthrob Link Larkin; Keegan Miguel as Edna Turnbland, and theatre veteran Jeremy Callaghan, who plays Harriman Spritzer. Acclaimed musical director Jessel Murray is set to conduct a live band, while the show will be directed by Louis Mc Williams. Other members of the production team include costume designer Lyanna Brown; scenic designer, Dara Jodron-Brown; and Cacique award winning choreographer, Adele Bynoe, assisted by Jorge Morejon and Kimmy Stoute-Robinson. Make-up designer Steven Taylor, lighting designer Knolly Whiskey and sound designer Treldon Thompson also lend their contributions to the show.
Both Padmore and Boucaud-Mason visited Newsday on Wednesday afternoon to share their thoughts on the production, and in a very spirited and lively interview, the pure love and excitement that the two women had for the theatre and for their work could not help but come across.
Both women seemed anxious and excited that the show was finally here after three months of preparation, and if the show has any of the charisma that they brought into the room, then Hairspray truly is a must see production.
When asked her anticipations for the show and about her character, Tracy Tumbald, Padmore responded, “I am simply excited but also a bit nervous. There is so much going, so many contributions to this piece from so many amazing people, and I am simply hoping that I can do my best and do a good job when standing next to such a talented cast.”
“But in terms of my character,” she said, “well in some ways I feel like if I am Tracy.
We both had to go through similar struggles; her character is supposed to be plus-sized woman which I am, and dealing with all the prejudices associated with being a plus sized person.
She is a little more up-beat than me, but there are times when I see myself being just as excited as her, just not all the time.”
Boucaud-Mason noted that she has been having an amazing experience in learning the role of Velma Von Tussle, and she could not wait to bring the character to life in the theatre.
“Where Tracy will be upbeat and excitable, Velma will be serious and conformist. The two characters play off one another. Tracy wants things to change for the better. She wants society to simply let her dance, and she doesn’t care who it is with, the colour of your skin or your size is irrelevant to her,” Boucaud-Mason explained.
“But then you have the other side of that coin. My character does not want change and believes things should stay exactly as they are. It is a very interesting dynamic and they both play so well off each other,” she said.
Both women also had nothing but praise for their coworkers and the contributions of the cast and crew, who were helping to make the play a reality.
“Everyone is working hard, and I mean everyone. From the director to the set designers, we are all working hard to bring the audience the best experience. We will have the best set, the best costuming, and as much as the show is a musical, I can say from our recent view of the set and the costumes that it will be visually stimulating as well, and I am thoroughly of the belief that you will leave the show energised,” Boucaud-Mason promised.
In an on-the-spot challenge, the two women were then given 15 seconds to explain exactly why they think persons should see the show.
This was their response, “It is an amazing production, and this will be reflected. It will be entertaining, lively, inspiring, energetic, musically satisfying and will appeal to you on every single emotional level.
There is a lot of drama, and great choreography. Most importantly, the music is simply amazing and no matter what you think about music from that era, we can honestly say that you will leave the theatre satisfied and may even want to see the show again a second time, so come check it out, a great time will be had by all.”
The opening of Hairspray musical Broadway production won eight Tony Awards out of 13 nominations and ran for over 2,500 performances.
The play has even spawn a London West End production, US national tours, and numerous foreign productions. It was for a 2007 film staring John Travolta.
Tickets for the show are available at the Department of Creative and Festival Arts, UWI (Agostini and Gordon Streets), Queen’s Hall Box Office, St Ann’s, and at all outlets of Cache.
For further information, search for Must Come See Productions on Facebook, call 462-0358, 320-4486 or visit www.mustcomesee.come.