Corny Collins (Kyle Dagnan) touts the merits of his sponsor, Ultra-Clutch Hairspray, on The Corny Collins Show with (from left) Candace Nichols , Kandace Shipley, Fiona Battersby, and Karley Moon.
IF YOU GO
When: 8 p.m. today, Saturday, July 8-9, July 15-16, July 22-23; 7 p.m. Thursday, July 14 and July 21; 2:30 p.m. July 10, July 17 and July 24.
Where: MainStage, Chattanooga Theatre Centre, 400 River St.
Admission: $10-$25 (opening night $30).
The Chattanooga Theatre Centre has planned several special events in conjunction with its MainStage production of “Hairspray.”
Today: 7 p.m. “Welcome to the ’60s” opening night gala includes complimentary hors d’oeuvres from Events With Taste and drinks; costumes are encouraged, and patrons are eligible to win theater tickets.
Thursday: 7 p.m. show offers real-time captioning for deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons.
July 8: 8 p.m. show offers talk-back with the director and cast after the show.
July 22: 8 p.m. Girls Night Out show offers complimentary snacks and drinks.
It’s a show as big as its hair.
“Hairspray,” the Tony Award-winning production that focuses on a plump Baltimore teenager’s desire to be famous, opens at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre today for the first of 14 shows.
“The story,” said show director George Quick, who is also the theater’s producing director, “is that Tracy [Turnblad] is a fat girl who gets made fun of. It’s the [broader] story of people on the outside who don’t seem to fit in [eventually] triumphing and becoming a part of the whole.”
While the message is not missed, he said, it’s couched in a production chock-full of fun songs and opportunities for laughter, paying homage to musicals of the late ’50s and early ’60s.
“It’s very clever that way,” Quick said. “It deals with fairly serious issues, but it’s so much fun and so joyous.”
The musical is based on the 1988 John Waters film “Hairspray” and has music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman, and book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan.
Set in 1962, “Hairspray” tells the story of Tracy’s dream to dance on “The Corny Collins Show,” a local television dance program. Against all odds, the teenager — who wears the high and sprayed hair of the day — wins a role on the show, becomes a celebrity and launches a campaign to integrate the show after making black friends who taught her rhythm-and-blues music.
It features songs such as “Good Morning Baltimore,” “The Nicest Kids in Town,” “Welcome to the ’60s” and “You Can’t Stop the Beat.”
“They’re nonstop, almost like a sung-through musical,” said Quick, who also noted the songs’ variety of styles. “It’s in the old, traditional form, but it comes at you with way more production than a standard musical.”
Among the principals, Gracie Bramlett is ambitious Tracy; Jeff Hill portrays her mother, Edna, in the show’s standard drag role; former Voices of Lee member Jermaine Purifory is Seaweed; and Azusa Dance is Motormouth Maybelle.
“We’re really fortunate,” said Quick of the 28-member cast. “We had so many people audition, we were able to cast a really strong group of principals and a really strong group of ensemble players.”
He said he’s also fortunate to have a strong team surrounding him in musical director Mike Lees, choreographer Lindsay Fussell and stage manager Rodney Strong.
A strong set, colorful costumes and a five-person live band also give the musical strength the CTC’s season finale deserves, Quick said.
“We do that on purpose,” he said of broadly appealing, expansive productions. “It’s fun to have summer musicals. It’s a good way to end the season and have people subscribe for next season. It’s a show for everyone that’s lots of fun and exciting.”
Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...