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updated: 2/17/2017 11:49 AM

New theater company debuts with 'Hairspray'

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Red Horse Theatre Company

A plus-sized teen is determined to fulfill her show business dream in "Hairspray," the winner of eight Tony Awards.

A concert version of the hit Broadway musical will be presented at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 31 and April 1, at North Central College's Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville.

The musical is the debut production of Red Horse Theatre Company, in association with Forte Productions, and includes a 15-piece onstage orchestra. In "Hairspray," set in 1962 Baltimore, teen Tracy Turnblad has one goal -- to dance on the Corny Collins show. When she achieves that dream, Tracy uses her newfound fame to tackle an even more difficult challenge -- integrating the television network.

The family-friendly musical by Marc Shaiman (music and lyrics), Scott Whitman (lyrics), and Mark O' Donnell and Mark Meehan (book) is filled with numbers like "Good Morning Baltimore," "Big, Blond and Beautiful" and "You Can't Stop the Beat."

Its cast of characters includes Tracy's larger-than-life mother, Edna; her nerdy father Wilbur; teenage heartthrob Link Larkin; and record shop owner Motormouth Maybelle.

Red Horse Theatre Company founder and artistic director Jason Groh said he decided to start his theater company in Naperville because he loves the city, works there and saw a need.

"We have excellent performing arts programs and community theaters in Naperville that help develop young talent and feature terrific performers," he said.

"I wanted to build upon that strong foundation by bringing a premium professional theater company to this city that will collaborate with and promote the Naperville performing arts community."

Groh said he chose "Hairspray" as the company's inaugural production because the show is "fun and unique, and has a different type of perspective."

Director Frank Roberts added that "Hairspray" is timely.

"The show is all about acceptance and tolerance," he said.

Groh said he decided to present a concert version of the musical because he wanted a full orchestra.

"It's going to be nice to hear the score played the way it was originally intended on Broadway," Roberts added, noting that there would be a limited set.

"You really can concentrate on the characterizations and the music. And there's going to be dancing. It's fully staged, but it's not a traditional sets in-and-out production."

Discounted tickets are available until Wednesday, March 1. After March 1, tickets are $20 to $30. For information, visit redhorsetheatre.org.