'Hairspray' tackles racial segregation with pump and circumstance

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Suzanne Marino/The entire cast of the CharterTech High School production of ‘Hairspray’ gathers onstage. Suzanne Marino/The entire cast of the CharterTech High School production of ‘Hairspray’ gathers onstage.
SOMERS POINT – CharterTech High School for the Performing Arts will turn back the clock to the ’60s this week when it presents the musical "Hairspray" 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 28, 29, April 4 and 5.

Principal and Director of Curriculum Brian McGuire of Egg Harbor Township is co-directing the show with Jean Immler of Mullica Hill, and Karen Cleighton of Somers Point is handling the choreography.

McGuire said that over the summer, he, Immler and Cleighton were tossing around ideas for a production when they went to see "Hairspray" and decided it was a show that would blend well with the talent pool at their school.

"This show is full of energy. It's funny and it certainly has its serious moments, but it is a show that the whole family can come to and really enjoy," McGuire said.
Rehearsals began in January for the 27-member cast and the 12 students working behind the scenes on lighting, props and set design.

The show is based on the 1988 John Waters film and the 2002 Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman Broadway show and is set in Baltimore. The year is 1962, and Tracy Turnblad's dream is to dance on “The Corny Collins Show.” When that chance comes her way, Turnblad, played by senior Audreana Hill of Galloway, becomes an overnight celebrity.

Hill, 18, has been active in a number of theater groups. “Hairspray” is her fourth CharterTech production. She will graduate as the school valedictorian and plans to head off to Stockton next year to study theater and hopes to return to CharterTech to teach. She said doing this show is a dream come true.
"I saw it on Broadway and have wanted to do it ever since." She said her favorite number is “Without Love.”

Junior Justin Gaskill of Northfield is tackling the role of Edna that Harvey Fierstein made famous on Broadway. He said it is fun playing Edna because she is so over the top, and that it is just a great challenge. His favorite number is “Big Doll House.”

Johsian Martinez of Egg Harbor Township said he was part of the stage crew last year and saw how much everyone enjoyed being on stage, so he decided to try out the acting side of the show this year. He said he is really enjoying being on stage as part of the ensemble.

“‘Welcome to the ’60s’ is my favorite song because there is so much energy and so much action on the stage the whole time. It's really a lot of fun to be a part of it,” the sophomore said. 

Junior Bobby Lemaire of Cape May Court House, who plays Corny Collins, comes from a musical family. His father, Rob Lemaire, is the director of the Ocean City musical this year.

Lemaire said the show is universal because most people know something about “Hairspray.” He said he really enjoys the energy of the show, and it also tackles the serious issue of segregation and fighting for equality.

He said his favorite number is when they sing “I Know Where I have been” at Motormouth Maybelle's Record Shop.

When the curtain goes up, the cast's wardrobe will be right out of the ’60s, from Pro Costumes and Tina's Productions.

Tickets are $20, $15 and $10 and can be purchased at www.chartertech.org and at the door. 

Nylah Graves of Somers Point, Alvany Reese of Mays Landing and Leah Palmer of Pleasantville bring three strong voices to the stage in “Hairspray,” opening Friday, March 28 at CharterTech High School. Nylah Graves of Somers Point, Alvany Reese of Mays Landing and Leah Palmer of Pleasantville bring three strong voices to the stage in “Hairspray,” opening Friday, March 28 at CharterTech High School.

Edna, played by Justin Gaskill, and Tracy Turnblad, played by Audreana Hill, learn that Tracy has been invited to dance on ‘The Corny Collins Show.’ Edna, played by Justin Gaskill, and Tracy Turnblad, played by Audreana Hill, learn that Tracy has been invited to dance on ‘The Corny Collins Show.’

Pinky, played by Mark Gregory of Galloway, center, reacts to the news that Tracy Turnblad, played by Audreana Hill, also of Galloway, will be a dancer on ‘The Corny Collins Show.’ Justin Gaskill of Northfield, left, plays Edna. Pinky, played by Mark Gregory of Galloway, center, reacts to the news that Tracy Turnblad, played by Audreana Hill, also of Galloway, will be a dancer on ‘The Corny Collins Show.’ Justin Gaskill of Northfield, left, plays Edna.


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