NFM High to stage ‘Hairspray’
After a sneak peak at rehearsals for North Fort Myers High School’s production of “Hairspray,” it is easy to guess it will be another winner in the school’s history of outstanding spring musicals.
“I believe the talent you are going to see in this year’s musical is going to be the best ever,” said North Fort Myers High School Principal Kimberly Lunger. “I have peeped in on some of the rehearsals and I cannot believe the performers are in high school.
“The students completely transform into their characters, making you feel the era and culture of the time. This musical is going to be top quality, sparring no details, and is sure to delight everyone who attends.”
“Hairspray” is a musical based on the 1988 John Waters film of the same name.
The songs include 1960s-style dance music and rhythm and blues. The gist: In 1962 Baltimore, a plump teenager — Tracy Turnblad — has a dream of dancing on a local TV dance program.
When she does, she makes it a platform to integrate the show.
But it is not the doom and gloom of social injustice. The song numbers and well-developed characters at North Fort Myers High, make it an incredibly enjoyable acting, musical and dance experience.
“There are a total of 105 students involved in ‘Hairspray,'” said director Michele Whitener. “There are 60 onstage performers, 25 tech/ crew and 20 in the orchestra.”
The musical director is Gwen Gregg; assistant director Damaris Martinez; choreographer Robin Dawn; Stagecraft class’s Wanda Day and set construction by Paul Pescatrice, Kevin Ostrowsky and DADS, an organization from the school.
Lead actors include Haley Ondrejka as Tracy; Kent Miller as Edna; Trevor Schmidt as Link; Kiersten Benzing as Amber; Elizabeth McCawley as Velma; Sterling Wingard as Corny Collins; Caleb Williams as Wilbur; Ray Feliz as Seaweed and Tyla Rodrigo as Motormouth Maybelle.
Several of these students also were involved in the Broadway Palm production of “Hairspray,” including Trevor Schmidt and Kiersten Benzing.
“The show is a lot of fun, high energy, but with important messages about diversity,” said senior Sterling Wingard.
In the movie version of “Hairspray,” John Travolta played the part of mom Edna, the biggest comic relief of the film. Kent Miller is Edna in this production. Senior Caleb Williams states, “At first it was difficult to have my stage wife be a man, but oddly enough, I’m getting used to it — that scares me.”
“Once again we have worked hard to provide a musical extravaganza for our school and community,” said Whitener. “We hope all come out to watch this 60’s flashback. You will be humming these tunes after the show.”
Returning top talent also includes Haley Ondrejka. “This is my senior year; I love portraying Tracy!”
“The music from ‘Hairspray’ has been both fun and a challenge,” said Gregg. “The orchestra is made up of some of the best band and orchestra students at North High. They have risen to the challenge, so that the audience will be dancing in their seats.”
“This is one of the most talented group of high school students I’ve choreographed for musical theater,” said choreographer Dawn. “You won’t want to miss this show.”
Performance dates are Thursday, April 7; Friday, April 8; and Saturday, April 9, at 7 p.m., with a Sunday, April 10, matinee at 2 p.m.
The cost is adults $8, students $5. Tickets are available at the door. Doors will open at 6 p.m.
North Fort Myers High School is at 5000 Orange Grove Blvd. For information, call 995-2117.