Hairspray: Big Musical, Big Dreams, Big Hair

“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries or the way she combs her hair.” --Audrey Hepburn

The early 1960s brought the heights of change in American culture. The advent of the civil rights movement spawned a melting pot of social and economic standards. Politics, pop-culture, fashion, drugs and rock-n-roll birthed new ideals for the social identity of America’s youth. And more often than not you could follow each strand of hair to such heights.

Perhaps the best way to bid farewell to the Omaha Community Playhouse’s outstanding 2011-2012 season is an upbeat celebration of what makes this country and our identity so unique. Hairspray opens in the Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre on May 25 and runs until June 24.

Based on the 1988 John Waters film, Hairspray is a musical that redefines beauty, as a big girl with bigger aspirations becomes the newest local TV star.

“The dialogue is very funny and it’s really a tribute to the writers and the way they adapted the original movie,” said Director Susan Baer Collins. “Getting everyone to rehearsal,” she said is her biggest challenge. “30 people. A cast of 13 leads and the ensemble, and the ensemble is busy all the time.” Between staging a show of this magnitude and choreographing all the musical numbers, rehearsals can get a little tangled, much like hair.

Since early April, Kaylan Paisley, the show’s wig designer, has been bobbing and weaving wigs for nearly every cast member in the show. Some get more than one. “Hairspray is one of my favorite shows on the planet,” said Kaylan. “Hairspray has always been an inspiration to me. I got to see it on Broadway when I was in high school. The wigs in this show are characters all themselves. The main design behind it all is the bigger the better. Larger than life.”

No stranger to creating wigs for musicals, Kaylan has worked on the professional Broadway tours of Cats, 101 Dalmations, the Musical and Legally Blonde. A section of the OCP costume shop has been transformed into a beauty salon where Kaylan leads a team of seven Omaha hair stylists who have volunteered to work on the show. Together, the team will construct 40-50 wigs before opening night.

When working with such large wigs, movement becomes an obstacle. Georgiann Regan, the show’s costume designer, ensures the wigs and the wardrobes are manageable for all the musical numbers and dance routines. “We use big zippers,” she said with a chuckle. “Just step in and out.”

Between the music, staging, choreography, wardrobe and the colorful mix of characters, it’s important that the entire mix blend well together so the inspirational message that Hairspray sends can be received: Love, peace and hair-grease.

Hairspray runs May 25-June 24 in the Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre. Tickets are $40 for adults and $24 for tickets. For groups of 15 or more, tickets are $29 for adults and $18 for students. For tickets or for more information, visit the OCP Box Office, call (402) 553-0800 or click here.

Article by Chad Cunningham


Susan Baer Collins said...

Thanks for a another great article Chad - The Playhouse has been so fortunate to have such a great blog contributor this past year!

Chad Cunningham said...

Thank you for your kind words, Susie. It has been my pleasure to work with such inspired people. OCP has been an unexpected blessing in my life and I am grateful for the opportunity to work with people that are so passionate about their art. I heART you all!!!! Thank you, Katie for all you've taught me.

Dorene Sherman said...

Chad . . . love this commentary on Hairspray. What a wonderful show it is and am SO looking forward to seeing it. Just discovered your blog and as Susan says it is very well written with such knowledge and feeling. Thank you. Am also thankful for the archives so I am still able to read those from the past. I look forward to future blogs. Thank you again.

DeAnn Stodola said...

My daughters and I saw Hairspray today at the playhouse. What a wonderful experience! We thoroughly enjoyed every minute, from the first song to the final bow. One of the best musicals I have ever seen. Congratulations to the cast and crew, and all of the talented individuals that were a part of this production. We will definitely be coming back.