Good morning Springfield.
The Statler sat down for a brief conversation with Beth Domann before her tech rehearsal for Springfield Little Theatre’s first performance of their 77th season (yeah, 77 … amazing), Hairspray. The talented Domann spoke about the awesomeness of Amelia Parish, the idea behind the show, and Derrick Jarvis’ new boobs…giggity.
The Statler’s Waldorf: Good evening, Beth. Big production coming up, how are you feeling?
Beth Domann: Excited. Very excited.
TSW: For those who may not be familiar with Hairspray will you please tell us a little bit about it.
BD: It’s about a girl named Tracy Turnblad who loves watching this program called the Corny Collins Show and she finds out they’re holding auditions (Statler’s interjection: the Corny Collins Show…think Dance Party USA, or Club MTV…or The Grind, for you Gen Y youngsters). But Tracy is kind-of a hefty little gal so she doesn’t really “fit in.” And it all goes from there.
TSW: When does the show take place?
BD: 1962, in Baltimore.
TSW: This is a big show, perhaps not as big as some that you’ve had in the past, but still big to say the least. I know with this show there’s a lot of movement and dancing to consider. How are you handling the stage direction?
BD: Obviously, I look to the the choreographers because there’s a lot of music in this one. Chyrel Miller (director and choreographer of last season’s Chicago), Joey Williams, and Lorianne Dunn did the choreography for the whole thing, and did a fabulous job. Chuck Rodgers, who did the set design, had a huge impact on movement, because so much is in and out and flying all over the place during the show. There are a couple of places where people have to be careful about being squished or clocked. There are quite a few scene shifts and even more people moving around. We’ve got a big crew.
TSW: Concerning casting, what were you looking for in your main characters?
BD: We were looking for the person that grabs the role- just grabs it and takes it, and man oh man, we’ve got an incredible cast. Amelia Parish as Tracy Turnblad is fabulous.
TSW: Where have we seen Amelia before?
BD: In Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr., most recently, but she’s been in a number of shows here (at the Landers).
TSW: About that, I would imagine that the theatrical classes and programs you have through SLT and the Junior performances help to prepare these young actors to tackle the lager roles, such as Amelia as Tracy…
BD: Of course…Amelia is one of those kids that’s just freaky talented, but we try to promote everybody’s growth as performers and actors. We are always honing their skills so, yeah, if an opportunity likes this ever comes up, they’ll be ready.
TSW: Let’s talk about Derrick Jarvis for a moment.
BD: Derrick. I love Derrick. I’ve known Derrick for a hundred years. He is just an incredible performer.
TSW: I can imagine the role of Edna (Derrick’s character and Tracy Turnblad’s mom. Yep, Tracy’s MOM. Derrick’s a dude) either going fantastically or horribly wrong. Last time I saw Derrick was in Chicago, and he was very good in that. How has he embraced this role?
BD: Funny you should ask…we were working on a scene and I said, “Now, Derrick, you have to think like a woman. A hormonal woman.” Try embracing that. And, of course, once you put boobs on someone they tend just go with it for some reason.
TSW: As fun as this performance is, it actually deals with some pretty relevant social issues, like prejudice, integration…is your cast aware that this show is to an extent, didactic?
BD: Very much so, and we’ve actually spoken quite a bit about it. They’re kids, obviously, and so some of the situations are completely foreign to them, but we have some older members of the cast who were there when these sort of things were going on. They’ve done a great job of embracing the message that this show delivers and I’m very proud of them for that.
TSW: I’m excited to see what you’ve done with this show and story. What would you like for me, as an audience, member to walk away with?
BD: I would like them to walk away realizing how far we’ve come, but also have a really good time with the performance itself. What I like about this show is that the overall sociological lesson isn’t thrown in your face. It’s very much there, but it is wrapped in great music, great characters and a really fun story. This music sticks in your head, trust me, I’ve been singing “Welcome to the Sixties” for weeks now. If just a few people leave with at least that sort of impression, then we’ve done our job.
Hairspray opens tonight at the Landers and runs through October 2. For ticket info call 417-869-1334, or visit their website.