The ever-popular 1960s-set musical Hairspray is the latest big name production to get the Excelsior Academy treatment when it opens to an expectant audience tomorrow night. (Tuesday March 27<sup>th</sup>)
Focusing on the inspirational story of plus-sized teenager Tracy Turnblad and her dream to dance on the top TV programme ‘The Corny Collins Show’, the award-winning stage show and film is the latest musical to be performed by multi-talented Excelsior pupils.
Sarah Lamb and Dylan Yearnshire play the lead characters of Tracy and heartthrob Link Larkin, alongside a cast of pupils, many of whom performed in last year’s hugely popular staging of ‘Les Miserables’.
For the past ten weeks, the cast have devoted many hours of hard work under the guidance of show musical director Michael Davison, director Holly Knox and assistant musical director Michelle Tufnell.
The music teachers have worked after school and at weekends to ensure that tomorrow’s opening night is a rip-roaring success.
The ‘Hairspray’ plot sees Tracy put in detention with African-American fellow school students in early 1960s Baltimore, where they teach her some of their dance moves to transform her into a star on ‘The Corny Collins Show’.
She uses her new found celebrity status to advocate racial integration on the show, but faces scrutiny and bullying from the network producer Velma and her popular, but vicious, daughter Amber.
Michael said: “It was the pupils’ choice to stage Hairspray, we have a really strong cast, a good, ethnically diverse cast able to do this and they all really wanted to do this.
“It’s a very challenging production for our cast, the music is demanding and the storyline is fantastic in promoting integration and diversity.
“It is set in the early 1960s where racism was rife at the time so I think it gives a really good message in the diversity, inclusion and acceptance that it portrays.
“It’s not all singing, there’s a lot of spoken dialogue in it and there’s dancing which is totally different to Les Miserables – but the cast are so talented they have taken it in their stride, all the high-energy, full-on numbers, singing at the top of their voices which is a different challenge.
“They are an absolutely fantastic group of young people, great to work with. They rise to the challenge every time.
“They are all really excited to perform. I think it’s completely transformational being involved in the arts.
“I think the benefits that the pupils get in increased confidence and self-esteem are there for all to see. It is completely overwhelming to see how the pupils perform when you actually just stand back and watch what they are doing.”
Tickets priced at £3 for children aged 12 and under and £5 for adults are still available for both Tuesday March 27<sup>th</sup> and Wednesday March 28<sup>th</sup>. Doors open from 6.30pm on both nights.