Pupils tackle thorny issues in classic musical with skill

Neo Bodumela

THE theatrical talents of Alexander Road High School pupils will once again be put on show when the school presents the hit Broadway musical Hairspray later this month.

The musical will run from April 23 at the Savoy Theatre in Perridgevale.

The production is directed by well-known Port Elizabeth actor and dramatic arts teacher Greg Everard, who jointly won the 2012 Showtime Award for his direction of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

The plot of the musical is set in 1962 Baltimore in the US and deals with problems of weight and race, together with the age-old concerns of good and evil.

The cast of 60 pupils and three staff members has been rehearsing since January for the international hit.

The play was famously remade into a musical film, starring John Travolta in the role of Edna Turnbald, in 2007.

The production team of the show consists of musical director Nici Coleman, international dancer and choreographer Chereen Ferreira, vocal coach Wendy Doubell and rehearsing pianist Debbie Everard.

Greg said the high school’s version of Hairspray would not shy away from the difficult societal issues that the original musical deals with.

“The children have really embraced some of the racial and weight issues that are dealt with in the musical very well.

“We really feel that the musical is social commentary on anti-segregation and the fact that we will be staging it over the Freedom Day weekend is also a way for us to use the musical to celebrate our diversity as a country and our own struggle for freedom.

“What we’re effectively trying to do with this is to show that we may be people of different shapes and sizes and race but we are all part of society,” Everard said.

He said with the approach of final rehearsals for the production, tensions were rising among the cast members.

“The preparations for the production are going really well and tensions are quite high as we go into production week but we’re all looking forward to it.

“We have three of our staff members who are all seasoned performers who are part of the production, so that helps to lift the level of the children.

“What I can say, is that the production is a vibrant, colourful and funky offering, with a lot of high-quality dancing and a great orchestra.

“We really have had lots of fun taking it on and it’s not only fun but will leave the audiences with something to take home.”

The production starts on April 23 at the Savoy Theatre and runs to May 4.

Tickets will be available from Computicket, but discount vouchers are on sale from the school bursar.

April 23 and 30 are family shows, with tickets at reduced rates.

Further information: info@arhs.co.za or (041)365-1270.

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