The beat goes on for high school drama club

BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Staff Writer
You can’t stop the beat and you can’t stop 1960s teenager Tracy Turnblad from accomplishing her dreams in Clarkston High School’s Drama Club musical production of “Hairspray” this Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Tracy, played by junior Maryn McConnell, auditions for her favorite show and is chosen as a regular for the Corny Collins Show. She doesn’t think it is fair the black kids are only allowed to dance on the show once a month. She makes a stand against it.
“Tracy sees life in almost rose colored glasses,” said McConnell. “She wants everything to be right in the world and she doesn’t understand why things aren’t right. She has very strong morals and she sticks to her morals. She never compromises no matter what.”
She added it was very fun to get into the role.

Maryn McConnell, as Tracy Turnblad, sings the reprise of “Good Morning Baltimore.” Photo by Wendi Reardon Price

“I feel Tracy is me on steroids,” she smiled. “I relate to Tracy. I have very strong morals and I like to view life with optimistic eyes. It was super fun and I enjoy playing her.”
Tracy’s friends help her with her mission including Seaweed, played by senior Ben Niedeck; Motormouth, played by junior Haley Phillips; Dynamite, played by senior Averyanna Morrison; and Corny Collins, played by senior Lucas Bell.
The cast describes Seaweed with a kind heart, smooth and very sweet.
“I had a lot of fun because Seawood is really out there,” said Neideck, adding once he got into costume he really got into his character. “The deep theme of Hairspray is justice and equality for everyone.”
Seaweed’s mom is Motormouth, a DJ on the Corny Collins show.
“She’s not afraid to tell it how it is,” Phillips said, adding she grabs a hold of life and challenges, making them hers. “She knows where she’s been and where she is going.
Morrison added her character Dynamite lives a flashy lifestyle and she based her performance off the Supremes. Not only did she have fun getting into the role but being in the musical is meaningful to her.
“It’s something my grandparents went through,” Morrison said. “It means something to me because I want to bring justice to it. It’s very emotional but very fun at the same time. This is the greatest show you can do nowadays. Everyone can relate to this play.”
Bell describes showman Corny Collins as a spunky character. He is controlled by people higher than him, but knows it’s his show and he can do what he wants.
“He really enjoys dancing along with the kids, having a good time on stage, and showing people what’s good in the dancing community,” Bell said.
Senior Brendan Barker plays Fender and the gym teachers in his first ever play.
“Getting two roles is something special,” he shared. “Being Fender makes me be someone completely different than I am right now. He is the type of guy who usually works in the auto shop then goes to the Corny Collins show. Being the gym teacher, really pretend to be a gym teacher and project yourself and be the cool teacher.”
Senior Emily Herrmann plays the principal and is also a member of the ensemble cast.
“The principal is mad and it’s really fun to be mad at everyone,” Herrmann said. “As part of the ensemble I get to be whoever I want. It’s the beauty of shows to make it what you want it to be.”
Junior Grace Murphy is also in a lot of different scenes as a feature dancer.
“It’s like a choose your own adventure for all the scenes,” she said, adding she is a bum in the prologue then later a dancer on the Corny Collins show. “It’s so much fun to pick a new character for every scene, play it out how I want to play it out and do something that I love which is dancing. It’s tons of fun.”
The cast invites the community to come see one of the performances of “Hairspray.”
“It’s an upbeat musical,” said McConnell. “It’s a rollercoaster of emotions from happy to shocked to sad and back to happy.”
“Every scene is so powerful and so emotional in its own special way,” Murphy said. “Being backstage and hearing Haley sing as Motormouth is so emotional.”
“Clarkston’s musicals have built a fantastic reputation for being nothing but outstanding,” Barker added. “Last year’s Mary Poppins is reason I said I have to be a part of this. People can experience what the Clarkston musical theatre team is all about.”
Herrmann shared even though it happens in the 1960s there is a lot of similarity to what is happening in today’s world.
“Hairspray is a call to action for women and people of color to stand up for their rights. Just like people are doing today – stand up for yourself,” said Phillips.
“Everyone can be empowered because we have a lot of social issues going on especially in our government,” Morrison added.
The cast gives a shoutout to the costume crew, backstage crew, scenery crew, orchestra pit musicians, dance captain Gabriella Cascioli, director Jeff Tice, producer and tech director Amy Seaman, vocal director Michael Peterson and orchestra director Michael Lewis.
Evening performances are Feb. 14, 15, and 16 at 7 p.m. and matinee performances are Feb. 16 and 17 at 2 p.m.
Tickets are available for students and seniors for $13 and adults for $15. They are available online at:
https://tix5.centerstageticketing.com/sites/clarkstonhigh.