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Passion and discrimination against big hair

Campus Corresspondant

Published: Sunday, April 28, 2013

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 18:08


The opening night of the Connecticut Repertory Theatre’s rendition of Hairspray on Friday nearly filled the Harriet S. Jorgenson auditorium to capacity.

Comprised of nearly all UConn students, the cast performed flawlessly delivering a story of teenagers in the 1960’s who faced struggles of discrimination but overcame them through passion.

Though the majority of the cast was students, Lena Mary Amato who portrayed Tracy Turnblad, the leading role, along with Kevin Meany, who portrayed Tracy’s mother Edna in a Travolta-esque performance, were actors who appeared courtesy of the Actors’ Equity Association.

The Actors’ Equity Association is a labor union that represents actors to ensure that they are properly accommodated for their performances. The AEA also assists in promoting actors by helping to find them roles.

Appearing actors also represented by the AEA are Anthony J. Goes, Scott Ripley and Tina Fabrique.

Every performer, student or professional, did their best on Friday to recreate the tone and feel of the 60’s and undoubtedly had fun doing it.

Cast member Coles Prince said, “It’s a lot of fun, everyone’s worked so hard that when it pays off it comes out as fun.” 

Despite the fact that the actors are supposedly only acting like they were having fun on stage, the truth was written all over every cast members face during each scene, they were all having fun.

But the fun was not before several hours of rehearsal a day. According to Prince, for seven weeks the cast was rehearsing four hours a day every weekday and still had an eight hour rehearsal on Saturdays. That comes to 28 hours a week, on top of being full-time students.

According to cast member Darrel Hollens, “It was all worth it. The singing and dancing is so much fun. Just being out there and being a different person is so liberating. But the real accomplishment is getting to portray something so real.”

What Hollens meant was that the grand theme of discrimination may not be as prevalent today as they were in the 60’s but it is still very real and survives to our time, which is why the play is so important.

The play focuses on “The Corny Collins Show” which was inspired by “The Buddy Deane Show,” an afternoon television program locally produced in Baltimore modeled after the popular national show “American Bandstand.”

“The Corny Collins Show” and “The Buddy Dean Show” featured teenagers singing and dancing to the then new rock and roll style of music, considered by most at the time to be “black music”.

The division between black and white seems to propel the passion of the stars of the show, fueling them to succeed in spite of those that oppose what they are doing, a true teenage stigma.

Director Paul Mullins beamed with enthusiasm after the show. “Our mission was to portray joy and happiness and I’m very excited by the responses from the crowd because it means we did just that,” said Mullins

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