Home Moorestown News MTC keeps anti-discrimination message in place with Hairspray Jr.

MTC keeps anti-discrimination message in place with Hairspray Jr.

There will be six performances of the musical at the William Allen Middle School.

Left, Abi Sanie, a sophomore at Cherokee High School, and Selena Bianchi, a junior at Holy Cross Academy, will be playing the role of Tracy Turnblad in Moorestown Theater Company’s performance of Hairspray Jr.

Shortly after pieces of hate literature, comprised of KKK flyers, were found in town, the Moorestown Theater Company has put together its version of a musical applauded for addressing issues surrounding discrimination. The show, “Hairspray, Jr.,” will feature a 100-person cast and portray an ever-timely message regarding civil rights.

Based off the 1988 John Waters film and set to take place in 1960s America, “Hairspray Jr.” tells the story of Tracy Turnblad, an overweight teenager, and her desire to perform on the Corny Collins Show. Yet. when Turnblad finally gets her chance to perform on the teenage dance program, she becomes distraught by the fact that her black peers are only given the opportunity to dance once a month, on “Negro Monday.” In response, she helps to show dance its way toward integration.

Producing Artistic Director Mark Morgan began auditions for “Hairspray Jr.” on Monday, Jan. 9, with the first rehearsal taking place on Tuesday, Jan. 17. Although the show will be taking place right before spring arrives, Morgan had actually wanted to have the Moorestown Theater Company perform this show years ago.

However, despite his love of the musical, Morgan decided it was best to hold off on performing the show until his theater had enough African American performers to do it justice. In addition, he wanted these performers to be mature enough to understand the roles they were playing, as well as vocally mature to satisfy the roles.

“This show is a personal favorite of mine, with a score that can stand up to any Broadway musical,” Morgan said. “It was only right to perform it with a good African American representation, and i’m glad we held off until now, seeing as it is especially relevant with the recent KKK letters being found in town and the national threats on Jewish community centers.”

Committed to attaining a diverse cast, “Hairspray Jr.” will feature 24 African-American or minority performers, accounting for 24 percent of the show’s cast. The oldest African American performer taking part in the show, Indi Ebo, a 15-year-old sophomore at Paul VI High School, refers to her casting as Motormouth Maybelle Stubbs as her “dream role.”

“This musical tells a story that everyone can relate to,” Ebo said. “Discrimination can lead to not everyone feeling welcome, and I’ve seen some of my friends and their parents be discriminated against today.”

Ebo added she is especially glad to be a part of this performance because she sees it as a way for her to help others see the importance in its anti-discrimination message. Although some people may not have directly encountered the scenarios within the show, she hopes watching the performance will open their eyes to the world around them.

The two performers who will be playing the role of Tracy, Abi Sanie, a 15-year-old sophomore at Cherokee High School, and Selena Bianchi, a 17-year-old junior at Holy Cross Academy, agree with Ebo’s thoughts on the importance of the show’s message.

“I think it’s amazing to be able to play a character who is so open and accepting of everyone,” Sanie said. “With everything going on in the world today, the message of this show has the power to change the perspectives of people in the audience.”

Performances of the show will take place at the William Allen Middle School, located at 801 N. Stanwick Road, on Thursday, March 16 and Friday, March 17 at 7 p.m., and on Saturday, March 18 and Sunday, March 19 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Tickets are $10 in addition to a $2 processing fee, and can be purchased online at: https://moorestowntheatercompany.secure.force.com/ticket. For more information call (856) 778–8357.

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