• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

'Hairspray' comes to Woodford Theatre May 6

Producing a large-scale musical like "Hairspray" in Woodford Theatre's intimate space has been demanding on cast and crew, but director Vanessa Becker Weig says she was "anxious for the challenge." "I've directed (this musical) before," she explains, "and I just really love the show." Set in 1962, "Hairspray" tells the story of Tracy Turnblad - a lovable plus-size teen who dreams of dancing on a popular local television program, The Corny Collins Show. When her dream comes true, Tracy uses her sudden stardom to win the affections of heartthrob Link Larkin, while also becoming an advocate for integrating the TV dance show. "Hairspray" was made into a 1988 film before being adapted for stage and making its Broadway debut in 2002. The Tony Award winning musical, which comes to Woodford Theatre for nine performances beginning next Friday night at 8, explores themes of equality and acceptance that still resonate today, says Becker Weig. She describes "Hairspray" as one of the "bucket list shows" for most of the actors in her cast, including Robert Parks Johnson, who has wanted to portray Edna Turnblad "for a very long time." More importantly, Becker Weig says producing a well-liked musical like "Hairspray" has attracted "a crazy-talented" cast, which will have audiences "dancing in the aisles." University of Kentucky Theatre student Madeline Williamson portrays Tracy in Woodford Theatre's production. "She just was Tracy," says Becker Weig. "She's got a really bubbly and life-loving personality. Not to mention she is a great singer. She's a wonderful dancer. And she just embodies everything Tracy needs to have" onstage. Peter Gibbons as Link and Daniel Bruington as Corny also bring a wealth of talent to their "Hairspray" roles. After witnessing Gibbons's "perfect crooner voice" and Bruington's "sparkling personality" during auditions, Becker Weig says she knew both of those UK Theatre students were right for their roles in this musical. They are being joined onstage by younger Central Kentucky actors, including several Woodford County teens, who are doing a fantastic job, according to Becker Weig. "The cast is just really talented - one of the most talented casts I've ever had," she says. "Hairspray" opens on Woodford Theatre's stage next Friday night, May 6, at 8. Additional Friday and Saturday night performances as well as Sunday 2 o'clock matinees continue through May 22. For tickets ($20 for adults and $13 for students) visit www.woodfordtheatre.com or call 873-0648.

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