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Munster Theatre Company to stage 'Hairspray'

Junior Ariel Velasco, student director (left), blocks actors during a rehearsal of Act 2 of Hairspray.

The hit John Waters-inspired Broadway musical "Hairspray" is coming to the stage in Munster.

In May, the Munster Theatre Company at Munster High School will perform the play about an optimistic teen in early 1960s Baltimore who gets a star turn on the “Corny Collins Show" and pushes for the integration of the television program.

“This show does such a wonderful job of combining a serious subject with an essence of comic relief, and it touches on a subject still being dealt with presently," said senior Cali Grzybowski, who stars as Tracy Turnblad. "I used to think that acting was just reading lines off a script, but I wholeheartedly admit it is much more than that."

“'Hairspray' is one of my favorite musicals," said junior Jack Sullivan, who plays Link Larkin. "[The hardest part] is figuring out how to say and act out the character to make it your own and not just a copy of what is seen in the movie version.”

More than 70 actors, directors, designers, musicians, and technicians worked on the production. Senior Joe Bellahcen, the technical director, said the set is something to behold.

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“We are experimenting with a lot of new things with the set," he said. "Building a giant can of hairspray is definitely a first for me.” 

The play remains relevant in the modern age, Director and Producer Ray Palasz said.

“The music is outstanding, and the message applies today just as much as it did in the 1960s when integration was the hotbed issue of the day," he said. "We have a wonderfully diverse student population, and, while we always engage in color-blind casting, this show provides characters that are specifically written for diverse populations. And of course, the message of acceptance is just as important to look at today as it was in the 1960s.”

FYI: "Hairspray" will be performed at 7 p.m. May 2, 3 and 4 and at 2 p.m. May 5 at the Munster Auditorium at Munster High School. Tickets are $8 online or $10 at the door. For more information, visit munaud.org.

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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.