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Hairspray Musical to Galvanize Ventura County

Photo Courtesy of Moorpark College

Photo Courtesy of Moorpark College

Manifested as a social commentary on egalitarian race relations, and based on the 1988 John Waters film, “Hairspray” the musical opened in 2002 before subsequently dominating the Tony Awards in 2003. Another film followed in 2007, and, since then, “Hairspray” productions have toured different parts of the world. Now, Moorpark College, ranked as one of the best community colleges in the country, aims to bedazzle and put on the highest-caliber attraction in possibly the institution’s history starting on March 3rd through the 20th.

To call the show a spectacular-in-the-making would be an apropos description as it has, and continues to be, meticulously crafted during rehearsal by a multitude of individuals with one goal in mind – to not only fulfill, but exceed expectations.

“This is by far the biggest show…and the budget [for it] is bigger than any other to date. We have 200 students working on stage and backstage and 45 cast members in more than 100 costumes,” reveals the esteemed director of the production, John Loprieno.

Photo Credit: Christopher Thume

Erika Tramonti (Gym Teacher) in foreground singing and practicing her music (Photo Credit: Christopher Thume)

The outfits in particular are destined to be delightful in the era of the rollicking 1960s, thanks in large part to costume designer and professor Haleh Risdana, who, according to Loprieno, has supervised more than 60 attire pieces.

The coming-soon extravaganza also has the reputable and irreplaceable dance choreographer, Beth Megill, whose dance direction and vision will bode exceedingly well for the final product.

Photo Credit: Christopher Thume

Director John Loprieno discussing acting techniques with Steven Oriee (Duane) and Quinn Knox (Link) (Photo Credit: Christopher Thume)

“[In preparation it entailed] many hours of watching videos from the 60s on the web, and dancing in my living room. [There is] the big challenge of dialog and dance blending into each other at every turn…but also with the excitement of the process as well,” says Megill.

Co-musical directors Marilyn Anderson and David Watkins have been monumentally beneficial to the process, too, given the various harmonies and rhythms required of the demanding music written by Marc Shaiman. Suffice it to say, every performer is integral in what he or she brings to the table.

Anderson, who has carved a storied career with Moorpark College, is already aware in the ongoing rehearsal process that “the show is different in that the ensemble is part of, if not completes, the orchestration.”

Photo Credit: Christopher Thume

Students huddled around musical director Marilyn Anderson (Photo Credit: Christopher Thume)

Watkins agrees that there is a palpable “juxtaposition of background parts, complicated rhythms in addition to a fast-moving storyline.” “It’s all about pace,” he acknowledges, “and [the music] changes key at a hair-pinned turn.”

Though as challenging as “Hairspray” has been during the prelude to its main-stage arrival, the cast and crew are hopeful that those who see the show will not only have a superb time, but be positively affected.

As Megill keenly observes, “[change and] transformation can even come in the form of an upbeat musical.”

*Showtimes for “Hairspray” at Moorpark College are the following: March 3-5, 10-12, 17-19 at 8 p.m.
and March 6, 13, 20 at 2 p.m.

*Prices are $15 for adults and $10 for students, seniors, and children. Tickets can be purchased at


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