Growing through performing
Actors in BHS’s ‘Hairspray’ learn about themselves while rehearsing musical
by By Joseph Passantino
Reporter staff writer
Mar 19, 2014 | 1573 views | 0 0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SHOW STOPPERS – Four of the stars of the Bayonne High School musical “Hairspray” are pictured during a weekend practice session. From left are: Alisa Soto, Dominic Crisonino, Mary Grace Smith, and Jeremiah Bryant.
SHOW STOPPERS – Four of the stars of the Bayonne High School musical “Hairspray” are pictured during a weekend practice session. From left are: Alisa Soto, Dominic Crisonino, Mary Grace Smith, and Jeremiah Bryant.
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Performing in a high school musical, making friends, and enjoying the camaraderie can be enough for most students. But these students are also learning about themselves during rehearsals of “Hairspray the Broadway Musical,” the Bayonne High School Drama’s spring production.

Set in 1962 Baltimore, “Hairspray” is the story of plus-size teenager Tracy Turnblad, whose one true goal—to dance on the popular “Corny Collins” TV Show—is realized. As her dream comes true, Tracy undergoes a catharsis, changing from a social outcast to a beloved star, and in the process learns a lot about herself.

Jeremiah Bryant, 17, a junior playing Seaweed J. Stubbs, is going where he hasn’t gone yet as a performer. In his second show as a lead, he’s learning to extend his talents from music to acting and musical theater. He’s learning to speak up and be a bit more boisterous to play Stubbs, a challenge he’s enjoying.

Mary Grace Smith, 15, a veteran high school performer playing “Penny Pingleton,” is playing a role that helped propel a teenage actress in the movie version into stardom.

“I’m playing the part Amanda Bynes played in the movie, though I’m certainly not Amanda Bynes,” she joked.

Dominic Crisonino, 17, who is in his 17th BHS production and playing Edna Turnblad, wonders if he can nail a role he’s had an interest in for years.

“I’ve wanted to play this character for a while, so I’m working hard to give it my best,” he said.

Alisa Soto, 18, a senior playing Velma Von Tussle, wants to make sure she caps her high school performing career in grand fashion.

“This is my last play,” she said. “I’m definitely going to make this my best. I want to do my best, kind of like going out in style.”

Danielle Baran, 15, a sophomore playng Tracy, wants to lose herself in the role that she already feels is a perfect fit.

“I’m a very happy person, just like her; I love to do what I do,” she said. “I’m a very comfortable person and I always want to make everything right, like she does.”

Deja Baret, one of “The Dynamites,” a singing troupe in the musical, had an epiphany.

“I like that having this part made me a lot more confident with my singing voice,” she said. “I was very shy, but once we started this show it opened me up a lot more.”

Famous musical

Hairspray the Broadway Musical won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

It was described by Music Theatre International as a “family-friendly musical piled bouffant high with laughter, romance, and deliriously tuneful songs.”

Hairspray’s music is by Marc Shaiman. Lyrics are by Shaiman and Scott Wittman. The book is by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan. It is based on the New Line Cinema film written and directed by John Waters.

Tickets and information

The musical will be performed at the Alexander O’Connor Auditorium on Friday, March 28 at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 29 at 7 p.m., and Sunday, March 30 at 2 p.m.

For tickets and information, visit bhsdramasociety.com.

Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.

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