This production was our first official collaboration with the Impact Dance Team at Incarnate Word Academy. Team members were cast collectively as the Corny Collins dancers. Student choreographers also took the reins for the first time, blocking the entirety of "Good Morning Baltimore" as well as contributing to multiple other dances. Students hand-crafted protest signs for the final bows, reflecting their individual beliefs and causes worth protesting over. Student designed set and full set of projections.
Students who have worked with me before will recall that I am obsessed with “mirrored” moments on stage -- moments when the blocking is similar for two different scenes to show that they are linked thematically. One fun pair in this play: Tracy ends her song dreaming of a romance with Link Larkin in the same spot where she, a few scenes later, makes her move.
A more serious one is the V-shape the protesters form in “Big, Blonde, and Beautiful” when they are feeling exhilarated and righteous as they go to protest the Corny Collins Show to insist on racial integration...only to be jailed en masse. The entire second half of the play is about bringing the students back to this moment again -- finding the strength to go on protesting for what’s right even when it’s not fun, even when it’s not easy, even when the price is high, and even when you’re not sure that it’s going to work. Motormouth Mama Maybelle sings her second number “I Know Where I’ve Been” to try to rally the troops at this low point. The moment when the students begin to join her and re-form the V-shape from the first protest, this time with quiet determination rather than wild excitement, is the true message of Hairspray.
Which is not to say the show isn’t a lot of fun! It is! In fact, Tracy’s ability to find joy is crucial to the movement. She spends the first half learning that she can’t ignore the dark spots of the world in favor of her happy bubble. She spends the second half learning that her joy and light are exactly what can sustain the long fight for freedom.