Without a doubt - and even before they take to the stage in Lipscomb University Theatre's production of Hairspray - it's pretty clear that the production's cast members are truly "the nicest kids in town." Bringing the hit musical to life for local audiences, which will include a large contingent of alumni in town for homecoming at the Nashville university (Hairspray runs November 3-6 in Collins Auditorium on the Lipscomb campus), the large ensemble of more than 40 actors are hard at work, sharpening their skills, running lines and rehearsing like it's nobody's business. And their spirit and energy is palpable!
Director/choreographer of the production is Justin Boccitto , who's made a name for himself in New York City - where he teaches at Broadway Dance Center and is one of the visionaries behind The Group Theatre Too - he's also choreographing and working on a new children's musical version of Aesop's Fables, written by Michael Milligan and directed by Theodore Mann, artistic director of Circle in the Square. Joining Boccitto on the creative team are musical director Janet Holeman (whose work with the cast was obvious at the run-thru of the show I saw more than two weeks before opening night: the sound will pin you against the wall, in a very good way), assistant director Deb Holloway, stage manager Marjorie Wood, set/lighting designer David Hardy and costume designer June Kingsbury.
So just imagine that it's the 1962-1963 school year and you're about to watch your favorite teens on the hottest televised dance party in town...and get to know LU's "The Nicest Kids in Town"...
Whitney Vaughn aka Tracy Turnblad
What's your favorite song from the show? "The Baltimore Reprise, "because it shows Tracy's journey since the beginning of the show, and the audience gets to see her at her most vulnerable moment.
What's your most fun experience during the whole Hairspray process? The most amazing part of this process has been sitting back and watching each number come together. I love sitting on the sides and watching my friends play and explore their characters. We have such a talented cast, and every night we encourage and help each other. It's really special to know that 43 people are in one room with one goal in mind, which is to tell a powerful and truthful story. God has blessed each of us with talent, but the greatest blessing is the opportunity for us to share it with each other and the audience.
American Bandstand or Hullabaloo? Hullabaloo!
Tab or Diet Rite? Tab.
Kristi Mason aka Penny Lou Pingleton
What's your favorite song from the show? "Without Love," but close second is "You Can't Stop the Beat" (it's so much fun to dance to).
What's your most fun experience during the whole Hairspray process? Working with the amazing Justin Boccito. He brings so much to the table that the cast cannot help from being inspired. Every day I learn something about my character and myself.
American Bandstand or Hullabaloo? 1960 is when I should have lived. I love all the music of this time period. Mamas and the Papas, Beatles, Janis Joplin, etc. are usually playing on my iPod. This is a great time for expression through music. You can just tell what is going on in the world, through the music.
Tab or Diet Rite? Diet Rite (I drink it now!)