Headliners present Hairspray Jr. at the Port Theatre on May 23. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo youth theatre group presenting ‘Hairspray Jr.’

Headliners director and actors agree musical’s message continues to resonate

Although it takes place during the civil rights era, the musical Hairspray has a message that resonates in the present day, says Headliners artistic director Manda Chelmak.

The 2002 musical takes place in early ’60s Baltimore and follows overweight teenager Tracy Turnblad who gets a part on a segregated TV dance show, becomes an overnight sensation and successfully advocates for the program’s integration.

“I think it’s an important time to revisit that topic of racism and cultural division,” Chelmak said, adding, “We need a reminder this topic isn’t so weird to cover right now.”

On Thursday, May 23, Chelmak is directing the Headliners production of Hairspray Jr., the condensed version of the musical, at the Port Theatre. Aside from their evening performance, the cast will also perform a private matinée for schools.

Even though the musical ends with the breaking down of racial barriers, the actors agree that racism is a persistent problem worth discussing.

Katie Whalen, 13, who plays Seaweed J. Stubbs, love interest of Tracy’s best friend Penny, said that it’s important to recognize that people continue to face prejudice and exclusion based on their appearance.

“They’ll ignore what happened in the past and they’ll just act like it never happened at all … so I think it’s important for people to know that it still does happen,” she said.

The production is in partnership with the Port Theatre. While some cast members have performed at the venue in the past, for others, including 12-year-old Jade McConville, who plays Penny, it will be a new experience.

“[I’m] really, really excited because I’ve never been in a theatre that big,” she said. “They’re usually small theatres. [It’s] really cool because I have a main role this time so I can do it in a big theatre.”

WHAT’S ON … Headliners presents Hairspray Jr. at the Port Theatre, 125 Front St., on Thursday, May 23 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $12.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Hearings begin as Vancouver Island mom fights for allegedly abducted daughter

Tasha Brown now in Jersey in the British Isles, fundraiser being held in Nanaimo

Swollen Members rapper Madchild to perform at the Queen’s

Rapper’s new album ‘Demons’ reflects on his struggles with drug addiction

Another section of Bruce Avenue closing for construction

New curbs, gutters, lighting installation will detour traffic to Howard Avenue for three weeks

Hundreds of Kin club members meeting in Nanaimo this week

Service club holding national convention Aug. 21-24

Nanoose Bay residents miffed as roadwork on Northwest Bay Road causes long delays

City of Parksville announces road closure extended for a second time

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft: RCMP

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

VIDEO: RCMP unveil new, state-of-the-art forensics lab in Surrey

The laboratory is expected to handle thousands of forensic services from across Canada annually

Scheer promises EI tax credit for new parents if Conservatives form government

The government currently taxes employment insurance benefits for new parents

B.C. seizes 1.5M grams contraband tobacco, down from 5.75M grams the year prior

The 2019-2020 seizures were a sharp drop compared to the 2018-2019 year,

B.C. Speaker tight-lipped about aide’s legislature security tour

B.C. Liberals question Alan Mullen’s drive across Canada, U.S.

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Most Read