Actors debut at Hairspray the Musical

Hayden Steyn, Bryony Bosman, Mark Wilkes, Jasmine Minter and Victor Namawandi can be seen in Hairspray the Musical.

The Pinelands Players will stage its biggest production to date with Hairspray the Musical, with several local actors making their debut at the Artscape theatre.

Based on Hairspray, the 1988 cult classic film, Hairspray the Broadway Musical has been reproduced worldwide with its tale of love and acceptance.

The story follows teenager Tracy Turnblad in 1962 Baltimore, Maryland, at the height of the civil rights movement.

Tracy, with her considerable Jackie O-inspired hairdo, dreams of dancing on The Corny Collins Show.

After initially being rejected, Tracy’s determination lands her on the show, but despite rocketing to local celebrity status she faces discrimination for her opinions, weight, choice of friends and hairdo. Determined to be the change she wants to see, Tracy uses her position to challenge social perceptions and bring about the racial integration of the show.

The production will be on at the Artscape from Saturday February 2 and is led by director Neil Leachman and choreographed by Laura Bosman and rising star Jared Schaedler.

Mark Wilkes, from Pinelands, plays the role of Tracy’s plus-sized mother, Edna Turnblad, who runs a laundry business at home and hasn’t been out in a while.

Mark said the role required a lot of preparation and admitted he had had a tough time getting used to dancing and wearing heels, wearing a body suit and still being stage fit but said it was an honour to have been chosen for this part.

“Edna Turnblad is an iconic role and has always been played by a man. Not only do I play a woman but also a woman of a certain size. Acting in a dress, body suit and wig is going to present a number of challenges.

“I love Edna, she is vulnerable at the outset but has a protective relationship with Tracy. Her love for Wilbur, her madcap husband, is an aspect that I am excited to bring to life on stage,” he said.

Mark grew up in the UK and moved to South Africa in 2006. He received the Cape Amateur Theatre Award (CATA) for best supporting actor in Noise Off in 2015 and was nominated for a CATA for his role in Habeus Corpus. In 2017, he was nominated for three CATAs for Design for Living, Abigail’s Party and The Birdcage.

Bryony Bosman, from Pinelands, plays Tracy’s lovable but dorky best friend, Penny Lou Pingelton, who falls head over heels in love with Seaweed Stubbs against her mother Purdy’s wishes.

Bryony has been a member of Pinelands Players since 2008 and matriculated from Milnerton High School last year. In 2017, she was awarded two CATAs – one for outstanding performance by a junior performer and one for a duet.

On playing Penny she said: “Her eccentric, accepting, kind and yet slightly (more like very) academically-challenged nature make her fun and the perfect pal to Tracy. She doesn’t see race, size or creed, choosing the people she wants to spend time with based on who they are as people. I think she breaks society’s norm and doesn’t conform by openly falling in love with Seaweed.

“I think everybody can learn a lot from her. I think my character embodies the good in the world and yet also that everybody should strive to discover and portray their true self. I wish to be more like her,” she said.

The role of Corny Collins – the dance show host – is played by 29-year-old Hayden Steyn, who will make his debut theatre performance.

While Hayden has always had a love for theatre, his nerves and fear kept him from auditioning. When he heard about the production last year, he decided to step out of his comfort zone and audition. “I wish that I had started earlier. The journey and growth has been amazing thus far,” he said.

“Hairspray has an amazing message about racial integration and about being true to yourself and your beliefs,” he said. “I love how Hairspray approaches the topic of racial segregation with a little bit of humour yet still brings the message across in a heartfelt way.”

Film student and model Victor Namawadi, from Salt River, plays the role of Seaweed J Stubbs, the son of Motormouth Maybelle and a talented dancer on The Corny Collins Show. He ends up in detention with Tracy and falls in love with Penny.

“One of the most beautiful qualities about Seaweed is his ability to turn what many perceive as a negative situation into something positive,” said Victor. “Instead of being hardened and closed off due to racial segregation and inhumane treatment, he instead takes it upon himself to inspire his peers to sing and dance through the pain. This hopeful and optimistic approach to the ups and downs of life is what I like most about him.”

Victor was born and raised in Windhoek, Namibia but decided to move to Cape Town in 2016 to pursue a career in the arts.

Jasmine Minter, from Pinelands, plays Amber Von Tussle – a competitive and stuck-up spoiled brat with a bad attitude and strong personality.

“Amber is a very three-dimensional character. Upfront, she is the rude, catty, popular girl in high school, but in reality she has been brought up this way by her mother, Velma, and constantly seeks her approval. She has grown up believing that she is perfect and better than everyone else, and therefore when Tracy comes into the scene, her whole world is thrown upside down,” said Jasmine.

Jasmine’s high school drama teacher tagged her in a post and encouraged her to audition, knowing how much she loved the musical.

“Hairspray has been my favourite musical since I was 7, so I absolutely love this show. I feel that the message of this show is so strong and so important. It’s something that I truly stand by: anyone who is different or has something to say needs to stand up and be seen or heard. No one should been ashamed or scared to be who they are.”

The show will run from Saturday February 2 to Saturday February 16. Tickets range from R185 to R225 and can be bought at Computicket.