February 13, 2011

Hairspray Cast

The lyrics to a song found in the musical “Hairspray.” The music by Marc Shaiman, and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman were written in the late 1980s about a community in the early 1960s. The community is Baltimore but it could of been anywhere, a reflection of the youth of that day. It could of been written about Muskogee.

The music is bright and addictive. A contrast to its challenging themes of stripling coming of age, community inclusivity and race relationships for then and now. It is one of those timeless pieces that although the characters wear poodle skirts, tight jeans and pony tails the challenges the characters sing about are still relevant in 2011.

The rights to perform the musical were just recently made available and affordable for high schools, like Muskogee High School, to purchase. Penny McGill, theater director for Muskogee Public Schools, jumped on the opportunity. Muskogee High School is in production and the show is slated for Feb. 24, 25 and 26 at the Fine Arts Auditorium.

What makes performing Hairspray so special and worth the conversation, is the obvious opportunity for us as a community to revisit the same issues as the characters.

Penny McGill is giving us a golden opportunity for a critical gaze at our own community character. How far have we actually traveled? Are we where we want to be?

The students who are involved in this year’s musical are demonstrating what youth have shown us for eternity. The courage and consciousness to show the rest of us what we could be. Thanks to Penny’s efforts, the cast is very diverse, true to the spirit of “Hairspray.” And they are having a great time getting ready for the performance.

Art always has been an important piece of any social change. Even old Michelangelo said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” The artist’s imagination of what our world could look like or be like always has shown the way for the future. Somehow it is more luscious to view or hear from an overweight teeny bopper, Tracy, the voice of “Hairspray,” than to listen to our own voices.

“I know something’s in you that you wanna set free, so let so, go, go of the past now, say hello to the love in your heart.”

I hope you don’t mind my continual harping on the subject but once again the Muskogee community has something to brag about. Brag about some wonderful students and an awesome teacher who are using art to learn and grow.

Brag about a community who just might be willing to change and brag cause like little Inez says, “I’m tired of coverin’ up all my pride.”

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