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posted: 7/16/2014 3:13 PM

Fox Valley Park District troupe to stage 'Hairspray'

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  • Lead character Tracy Turnblad (Teegan Rogers, center,) shows the naysayers what she's made of in the Summer Stage performance of "Hairspray" with the help of new boyfriend Link Larkin (Colin Rhoades) and best friend Penny Pingleton (Kate Jarecki).

      Lead character Tracy Turnblad (Teegan Rogers, center,) shows the naysayers what she's made of in the Summer Stage performance of "Hairspray" with the help of new boyfriend Link Larkin (Colin Rhoades) and best friend Penny Pingleton (Kate Jarecki).
    Courtesy of Fox Valley Park District

 
 

Everything about "Hairspray" is big. The powerful, soul-stirring music. The spectacular sets. The dazzlingly colorful costumes. The bouffant hairdos piled high and haughty.

Even the show's leading characters are outsized outcasts, as lovable, plus-size teen Tracy Turnblad and her mama Edna find themselves on the barricades of social revolution. Yes, it's a big moment in history as well (set in the 1960s).

The whole production will have a huge presence this weekend as the Fox Valley Park District's Summer Stage presents "Hairspray" for four shows -- Friday, July 18, through Sunday, July 20, -- at West Aurora High School.

Set during the early 1960s in Baltimore, "Hairspray" is the inspiring story of the chubby Tracy (played by Tegan Rogers of North Aurora), who goes on a journey to dethrone the reigning teen queen, win the heart of a television heartthrob and integrate a TV network without denting her fabulous hairdo.

Tracy auditions to be on The Corny Collins (Bobby Taves) Show and her parents, Edna (George Bozonelos) and Wilbur (Patrick Farbo, Jr.), are surprised when she gets selected. But when scheming Amber (Cara Bishop) and her mother, Velma (Nikki Maynard), plot to destroy Tracy, her new boyfriend Link (Colin Rhoades), best friend Penny (Kate Jarecki) and new friend Seaweed (Tavious Peterkin) help Tracy show them what she's made of in this funny, family-friendly production.

"It's a great musical theater romp, a nonstop adventure of singing, dancing and humor," said performing arts manager Kyle Donahue. "It's also filled with great messages about society that make you think without hitting you over the head. The humor and music keep it moving at a fast pace."

Under the guidance of longtime director Arlene Hawks, the show features more than 75 local performers and musicians (an 11-member pit orchestra) who have been rehearsing since early June with scenes that incorporate young children, teens and adults -- the whole gamut.

Tracy is a determined young woman whose positive attitude is infectious. You can't avoid smiling when seeing her effervescent style and sunny spirit in constant motion.

The polished Barbie and Ken-like dance stars try to keep her out, but Tracy dances her way to fame, falls for the handsome hero and manages to integrate a show at a time when segregation was the norm.

"Even as an overweight teen, Tracy doesn't let anybody stop her dream of dancing on TV," said Donahue. "There are several themes within the storyline, but the overriding messages is that it's all about following your dreams while loving and accepting everybody, no matter who you are or what you look like.

"It's a heartwarming show of family and friends sticking together and overcoming challenges like bullying. There's a bunch of underdogs in the story -- who we always root for -- and Tracy is very inspirational. It's comedic and refreshing to see how she has such a positive attitude toward everything, no matter what the situation."

Tickets are $7 to $13. Visit seatyourself.biz/foxvalleyparkdistrict to order online.

• Jeff Long is the public relations manager for the Fox Valley Park District. Contact him at jlong@fvpd.net

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