Hairspray

Students from several Indianapolis high schools were paid interns at Newfields during the summer as part of a program through Bank of America. Students helped Newfields attract a younger audience and took a trip to Washington, D.C. L-R: Desmond Williamson, Leila Champion, Julia Brookshire and Feven Tekeste. (Photo provided)

I’m always amazed at how certain works of art stand the test of time. How, although created decades ago, the central theme or message still resonates in current times.

“Hairspray” fits into this category. The musical, written by Marc Shaiman and released in 2002, is based off the movie from 1988 of the same name. Over the years, there’s been another movie based on the musical adaptation in 2007, and NBC aired a live TV production in 2016. America can’t get enough of “Hairspray.”

It’s easy to understand why. Sure, the big hair, clothes, dance moves and use of the word “negro” are telltale signs that the musical is set in the 1960s, but the desire for love and acceptance is universal and infinite. 

Tracy Turnblad is a sweetheart of a teenage girl, who wants to be seen and appreciated for being who she is. Tracy is overweight, and boy, do her peers (and mom) let her know it. Fat shaming was a thing then, too. We just didn’t call it that. But Tracy won’t let the opinions of others stop her from auditioning for the Corny Collins Show — just the hippest show in all of Baltimore! After she befriends Seaweed J. Stubbs in detention, Tracy’s mission expands from simply being on the show and meeting Link Larkin to integrating the Corny Collins Show!

What makes Tracy so enduring is her bubbly personality that evens out her teenage angst. You can tell Tracy’s story was written before the 1990s. “Daria” she’s not! 

The cast at Beef and Boards did an amazing job. There wasn’t a dull moment. Adee David made sure Tracy was sweet but not too sweet. Suzanne Stark, who played Tracy’s best friend Prudy Pingleton, left the audience in stitches throughout the show. Even when she wasn’t in the spotlight, you had to avert your eyes to check out Prudy because she was always doing something comical. Tarra Conner Jones as Motormouth Maybelle brought the house down during her performance of “I Know Where I’ve Been.” She took us to church. By the time she finished, I knew I’d been changed!

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