Lyons Township High School cast shines in ‘Hairspray’
Andrea Goethals, who plays Amber Von Tussle is looked at with disapproval by her mother, Velma Von Tussle, played by Chloe Baldwin. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
If you go
Performances: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14, 15, 16 and 3 p.m. Feb. 17
Venue: Reber Center at the north campus, 100 S. Brainard Ave., La Grange
Tickets: $10 adults, $5 children, seniors and LT students with ID
Box office: Opens a half hour before each show
Updated: March 15, 2013 11:20AM
LA GRANGE — Big hair, big production numbers and a big finish await audiences lining up for “Hairspray,” opening Feb. 14 at Lyons Township High School.
The tale of pleasantly plump teen Tracy Turnblad winning a coveted spot on a hot TV dance show likely will have everyone rooting for her as she tackles an ever greater hurdle — integration in 1962 Baltimore.
“I love her abandonment and how passionate she is,” said LaGrange Highlands senior Naomi O’Reilly, who plays Tracy. “She must say 12 times, ‘I just want everybody to dance together on TV. It doesn’t matter who you are.’”
Although keeping her voice healthy and perfecting all the ’60s dance moves are challenging, working with her parents on the set is not, she said. LT drama teacher Eugene O’Reilly is directing the production, and Tammy O’Reilly, music director at Highlands Middle School, is serving as vocal director.
“I love it. Most of my life I’ve had one or both of them around directing me in performances,” Naomi O’Reilly said.
The 98 student actors, musicians and stage crew members also are led by LT music teacher Zachary May as the pit conductor and dance teacher Terry Wethington as choreographer.
Countryside senior Bell-Vaughan likes the character he plays, Seaweed J. Stubbs, a hip dancer on the TV show.
“He’s really, really energetic, and I have a great time playing him,” Bell-Vaughan said. “He does a lot of jumping and splits and spins in the air.”
The actor said he hasn’t taken any dance lessons, but studied the moves of Michael Jackson and James Brown to prepare for his role. Bell-Vaughan also said he’s inspired by fellow students.
“Everyone in the cast gives 110 percent every time they’re here, not just the leads,” he said. “Those girls in the back are dancing their hearts out.”
From driving ’60s dance tunes, to the soulful ballad, “I Know Where I’ve Been,” the music of “Hairspray” is what Eugene O’Reilly said drew him to tackle the production.
“The message also is pretty awesome as diversity and the acceptance of everyone, no matter your race, size, age or social status,” he said.
Wethington agreed about the musical’s message and relevance today.
“The racial tension of the time and dating who you love relates to the gay rights movement now,” he said.
But just as important as thought-provoking social commentary is creating memorable, uplifting entertainment, Naomi O’Reilly said.
“For people to leave with a smile on their face and humming at least one song, that’s the goal,” she said.