By Stella Steely
For Maynard Jackson High School’s (MJHS) latest musical, the theater department took on Hairspray and presented a fabulous show. This was the school’s big show of the year, and is being nominated for the Shuler Awards, considered the Tonys for Georgia high schools.
Hairspray follows a teenage girl, Tracy Turnblad, portrayed by Ella Sloat and Claudia Haspel, as she takes on life and segregation in the 1960’s through her favorite TV show, the Corny Collins show. This meant a lot of amazing period-appropriate costumes, put together by Jeanne Fore, Aloe Sanders, Stella Steely, and Dean Fullerton, and gorgeous sets.
Opening night was incredible and gave new meaning to “the show must go on”. Performers Sebastian Peoples and Colton Roberson continued to sing, and the rest of the cast to act, with a triggered fire alarm in the background. Actress Helena Denton took on the traditionally male role of Edna Turnblad, and from the moment she stepped on stage, the audience forgot any doubts of having a woman in that role. Seasoned actress Eliza Fausset played Velma von Tussle, one of two main villains. She absolutely killed it during her number “Miss Baltimore Crabs” with a finishing note that was standing ovation worthy.
The tech crew was incredible, utilizing turntables and vintage costumes to recreate the 1960’s in great detail. Stella Bentley did an amazing job with the elaborate hair and makeup for over thirty cast members, in under an hour for each show, a truly impressive feat. Stage managers provided a seamless transition between scenes, and the three turntables fit perfectly into every number.
Adrienne Edwards, theater director at Maynard Jackson, provided guidance, having worked with several of the members of the company for many years. This experience showed throughout the production. Maynard Chorus director, Phaiedra Horton, handled the music, resulting in show-stopping performances by both dynamite soloists and great vocals by the cast. Que’Ana Jackson choreographed a show that had the audience resisting the urge to stand up and dance with the cast.
Additional help with the show was provided by Zany Dunlap and KaMeesha Schoer, both of whom are heavily experienced in the area of musical theater. This show had two student directors, Eliza Fausset and Ella Dawson, who also starred in the show.
The favorite number of the show, for both the audience and cast, was “The Big Dollhouse”. This scene involves all of the women in the show locked in jail after a failed protest and is hilarious, dramatic, and incredibly entertaining. This scene’s lighting was by far the best in the show, capturing the mood and adding to the atmosphere. The simple use of moveable jail cells created the idea of imprisonment, but in an entertaining way. The choreography for this scene was also amazing, and the fights that broke out, comical. This show handled difficult concepts in a humorous way and enthralled the audience up until the final bows.
Everyone in the audience, are looking forward to seeing what the Maynard Theater Department takes on next.
(Stella Steely is a sophomore at Maynard Jackson High School.)