SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre’s first musical under the stars is “Hairspray” June 9-24

(Orem, Utah) — The first emotion audiences will see in the award-winning musical “Hairspray” at the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre is unabashed joy. Lovable plus size teen Tracy Turnblad begins the show with an enthusiastic love song to Baltimore as she dances and sings while wearing the signature mile-high bouffant hairdo sported by teen girls everywhere in 1962 America.

17Scera Hairspray pr 278

17Scera Hairspray pr 278 17Scera Hairspray publicity May 17, 2017 Photography by: Mark A. Philbrick

Like her peers, she races home every day after school to watch “The Corny Collins” dance show, which is reminiscent of the TV classic “American Bandstand.” She dreams of dancing on it, even though her larger-than-life mom tries to discourage her because she knows her daughter is considered more than pleasingly plump for television. Turnblad, though, is determined that talent and grit will win out.

In time, her resolve will bring out many issues, including body image, what it means to be an outsider, racism, activism, and social ideas that will later lead to the empowering Civil Rights movement. The musical is peppered with authentic phrases and ideals of the period that underscore the challenges of the time.

“I’m directing ‘Hairspray’ with the idea that love prevails over everything,” says director Jan Shelton Hunsaker.  “It’s about love of self and love of others and is a great show for SCERA. It is full of huge dance numbers, singing and high energy.”

The upbeat musical plays June 9-24 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. under the stars at SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre (located in the middle of SCERA Park, 699 South State, Orem). Tickets are available at www.scera.org, by calling 801-225-ARTS, in person between 10-6 weekdays at the SCERA Center for the Arts (745 S. State St., Orem), or at the Shell gate one hour prior to performance.  General admission is $12 for adults and $10 for children (age 3-11) and seniors (65 and older). Reserved areas with a free chair are available for an additional cost. Non-profit or church groups of 20 or more may purchase $6 tickets in advance, no refunds or exchanges.

Starring as Tracy Turnblad is Chelsea Lindsay, who charmed audiences at SCERA in the fall of 2016 as the hilarious Sister Mary Amnesia in “Nunsense.” She received her master’s degree in music at BYU and was honored as Best Female Singer of the Year. Adept in opera, operetta and musical theater, Lindsay has soloed for Murray Arts in the Park, for the Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts, with Opera Maya, and has toured with professional choirs from Israel to China. She was the Utah District Winner for the Metropolitan Opera National Council.

Andrew Hunsaker will portray Edna, Tracy’s mom.  Yes, that’s right – the role of Edna has traditionally always been played by a man.  “At 6’3” he is already a large presence, and when transformed with heels and makeup, he dominates the stage. “I think he’s wonderful, but I admit to some bias because he is my husband. I have loved his acting ever since we first performed together at SCERA many years ago.” Mr. Hunsaker teaches drama at Spanish Fork High School.

“With more than 50 people in the cast and one of the most upbeat musical scores of all time, this show is just infectious,” says Adam J. Robertson, SCERA’s President and CEO.

The catchy songs include “You Can’t Stop The Beat,” “Mama I’m A Big Girl Now,” “It Takes Two,” “Welcome To The 60’s,” “Good Morning Baltimore” and “I Can Hear The Bells.”

“We have a great cast,” says Hunsaker. “I was a little concerned that with one part of the cast playing entitled characters and the other portraying people in lesser circumstances, I would encounter some conflicts. It’s just the opposite. There have been no divisions among the cast, and it’s a love fest every night at rehearsals.”

Other major roles are played by Jaxson Dayton as Link Larkin, Kristian Huff is Corny Collins, Tearza Foyston is Penny Pingleton, Michael Thomas is Seaweed Stubbs, Leslee Preator-Keckley is Velma Von Tussle, Sasha Sloan is Amber Von Tussle, Daisy Allred is Little Inez, Luseane Pasa is Motormouth Maybelle, and Dennis Wright is Wilbur Turnblad.

Shelton acknowledges that while the focus of “Hairspray” is upbeat, there is a serious message underneath all the music. “While Tracy is comfortable with who she is, and doesn’t allow her weight to interfere with her life, she does begin to understand racism exists in her beloved Baltimore. She wants to dance with all her friends, including her black pals, so she fights for having a Negro (‘60s vernacular) Day at the local television station. That is the big conflict in the story.”

“Changing our mind set is always going to be a challenge, but ‘Hairspray’ shows that we always have to keep fighting for human rights,” Hunsaker adds.

Assisting Hunsaker is Tiffany Winkel Nutter, music director and choreographer. “She is brilliant at both,” Hunsaker says. “Tiffany graduated from the music/dance/theater program at BYU and moved with her husband to California. When she recently returned to Utah, I grabbed her up, and together we decided we wanted to do ‘Hairspray’ together.”

Hunsaker is also set designer, a credit she shares with her brother Brad Shelton, who helped her create periaktois, a series of seven three sided triangular towers that can be turned to reveal different scenes. “This musical takes place in about 18 different locations, and these columns will help us be artistic and creative while creating fun transitions between the scenes. It’s kind of a like a giant puzzle, and we are doing it with the bright colors of the ‘60s, and three gallons of glitter!”

Costumes are designed by Deborah Bowman.  Elizabeth Griffiths is lighting designer; Christy Norton is props designer; and Crysta Powell is stage manager.

A much-lauded theatrical favorite, “Hairspray” won eight Tony Awards, including best musical as well as the Laurence Olivier Award for best new musical in London.

 

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