Studying lines for an upcoming production of “Hairspray” has doubled as a history lesson for students at Garner High School.
After all, things are considerably different today than they were in 1962 Baltimore, where the integration-centered musical is set.
“They really didn’t know the history,” said theater director Cheryle Robinson Prater. “This day and time, these kids get along. They don’t see color; they really don’t.”
A cast of 65 – and 40 more in the orchestra and technical crew – has prepared since January for performances of the musical, set for March 16-18 at South Garner High School.
Keymonte Anderson, a senior playing one of the lead roles as Seaweed J. Stubbs, said learning about that time period had been eye-opening.
“It shows where we originated from and how much we’ve grown,” he said.
The musical uses imagery derived from blacks being denied access to front doors in the days of segregation.
“That front door is a blockade that keeps blacks and whites from coming together,” Anderson said. “We’ve really kicked in that front door, which is a verse from one of the songs. It’s really beautiful.”
Fitting the play’s message, Prater said, a particularly diverse group of 135 students auditioned in December. There were blacks and whites, of course, but also football, lacrosse and soccer players, along with dancers and actors.
“We’ve got every kind of kid up there,” Prater said. “That’s the beauty of Garner High School: the diversity.”
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