Hairspray ready to roll

3 minutes read
Posted 27 March, 2024
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Hairspray rehearsals with WHS students (from left) Felix Nicoll, Jack Smillie and Bethany Graf

Wakatipu High School students are getting ready to take their mainstage to perform American musical Hairspray. The show is their annual musical production and will open at the start of April.

It features close to 100 students from all levels of the school, whose involvement covers every aspect of the show from acting and dancing to music, hair, makeup, sound, lighting, front of house, programme design and more.

Hairspray is based in 1962 and showcases the change from 50s to 60s. It’s picked up eight Tony Awards including Best Musical – a family-friendly show full of romance, catchy tunes and funny moments. It follows Tracy Turnblad, a loveable plus-sized teen who’s only goal in life is to dance on the popular 'Corny Collins Show'. Throughout she is transformed from social outcast to sudden star and must use her newfound power to dethrone the reigning teen queen, win the affections of the heartthrob, Link Larkin, and integrate a TV network – all without denting her ‘do.

Year 13 student Alex Scoles is one of the student directors and Year 12 Kieran Leftley is the stage manager – both have been working hard behind the scenes to pull it all together. The show is directed by Jake Hansen with musical director Alison Price. They’re supported by a team of student directors, student choreographers and a myriad of student cast and crew.

“My role is to help our director, Jake, with working on scenes and warming up and managing the cast, quite a bit. Male ensemble is mostly my job,” Scoles says. “My brother was heavily involved with drama around all of Whakatipu and I just sort of got latched into the musical and I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve never actually done drama at school but I’ve always loved to do the musical each year. This is my fourth musical.”

“My role is the stage manager," Leftley says, "so basically I just try and help the crew leaders where I can – organising them and setting timetables, but then on the show nights I cue the backstage sound and lighting for when they need to be doing things.

"In Year 9 I took a drama class, which coincidentally was the only year I’ve not done the musical, but what drew me in was that I love the tech stuff behind the scenes and backstage, I just worked my way up to becoming stage manager.”

The students go on to explain that auditions started last year and scripts were handed out before the summer holidays so everyone was ready to jump straight into rehearsals. The team are dedicated, rehearsing after school and 10am – 4pm on Sundays. Planning begins long before this stage, too, with Jake discussing what musical they’d like to do each year and working to get the rights. Both boys are looking forward to opening night and each of the shows.

“Definitely getting up on stage that first time and everything coming together – you can’t really rival that feeling. I’m just looking forward being back up there in front of the crowd and getting to see them and showing them all the hard work we’ve put in over this time,” Scoles says.

“There’s two things I’m looking forward to – the first one will be a night where everything goes smoothly with no problems, which probably won’t happen, and the second will be when it’s all over and I can finally get some sleep,” jokes Leftley.

“Being able to see it all, even though I’m not as involved as much with rehearsals, I can see the progress that happens. It’s just really something on the stage with the costumes and full lights and sounds – the band up there and the sets all finished – seeing the final production just come together. That’s the moment I love about the shows we do here.”

Wakatipu High School’s production of the Tony-award winning show, Hairspray, will open on Wednesday, 3 April, and run until Saturday, 6 April. Refreshments will be available before the show and during intermission.

You can find out more info about the show and the rest of the high school’s performance schedule for the year as well as pick up tickets at wakatipu.school.nz/arts-and-culture.html


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