Left to right from top to bottom row: Grace Beck (Amber Von Tussle), Broch Overby (Edna Turnblad), Thomas Sullivan (Corny Collins), Sydney Mills (Penny Pingleton), Mackenzie Moe (Tracy Turnblad), Isaiah Cummings (Seaweed J. Stubbs), Faith Allen (Motormouth Mabelle), Donovan Schumacher (Link Larkin) and Kitri Lindberg (Velma Von Tussle) star in Anoka High School’s musical production of “Hairspray,” which runs May 3-11. (Image submitted)

The hit musical “Hairspray” is coming to the Anoka High School stage May 3-11.

The musical is based on John Waters’ 1988 film of the same name and is written by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan.

It’s 1962 in Baltimore, and the lovable plus-size teen Tracy Turnblad (Mackenzie Moe) has only one desire – to dance on the popular Corny Collins Show.

When she has detention with the African-American students in the school, they teach her some of their dance moves, and her newfound groove wins her a spot on Corny’s show.

Overnight, Tracy transforms from a nobody into a star, and uses her influence to advocate for racial integration on the television show.

Tracy faces scrutiny and bullying from the network producer, Velma Von Tussle (Kitri Lindberg), and her popular but vicious daughter, Amber (Grace Beck). But with the help of teenage heartthrob Link Larkin (Donovan Schumacher), host Corny Collins (Thomas Sullivan) and Motormouth Maybelle (Faith Allen), Tracy seeks beat the odds and integrate the show.

Director Jake Sullivan said the musical discuses many aspects of racial inequality that are still relevant today.

“‘Hairspray’ is a fantastic piece with a lot of timely issues in it,” he said. “This show touches on the civil rights movement, and what our students and many people don’t realize is that it occurred not that long ago ... There are many aspects of racism that are touched on in this show that still resonate today across America. The musical really teaches people how they can combat those prejudices today.”

The cast and crew include 55 students. Senior Kitri Lindberg (Velma Von Tussle) said many unique characters are represented in the musical.

“This show has such a wide range of characters,” she said. “Every part has a distinct personality, look and sound. No two main characters are alike, each playing into traditional archetypes and breaking them in many ways.”

Sullivan said this is one of the largest casts he has directed on the Anoka High School stage. “We have a lot of new talent coming to the stage, and it really shows the diverse body we have at Anoka High School,” he said.

“Hairspray” has 20 musical numbers. Many of the songs including “Good Morning Baltimore,” “Big, Blonde and Beautiful” and “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” are performed with references to 1960s-style dance music and rhythm and blues.

“The toughest thing about this show is that 80 percent of it is musical numbers,” Lindberg said. “This means there is tons of dance choreography and a lot of music to memorize. The best part about this is that for a majority of the show almost everyone is on stage and having fun together.”

“It takes a great amount of discipline both in school, at home and on and off the stage at rehearsals to perform these musical numbers, and the students have been putting an enormous amount of mileage to get those down,” Sullivan added.

Sullivan said “Hairspray” is something people won’t want to miss,

“There is something for everyone in this show ... and there are important messages in this musical that will resonate with everyone,” he said. “Outside of that, the show is a fantastic view of what our youth can achieve both in message and in talent.”

If you go

What: “Hairspray”

When: 7 p.m. May 3, 4, 9, 10, 11; and 2 p.m. May 5

Where: Anoka High School, 3939 N. Seventh Ave., Anoka

Tickets: Prices are $9.50 for adults and $8 for seniors and students. Tickets can be purchased at bit.Ly/2XUlEbf.


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