Live Hairspray Performance Recieves Audience Praise

FSSA’s cast of Hairspray. Due to COVID-19, all performances have been canceled. Photo credit Abe Ariel Productions.

Update: Given the current state of the COVID-19 virus and Gov. Cuomo’s ban on crowds of 500 or more, all performances of FSSA’s Hairspray have been canceled, including tonight’s livestream. Below is The Bennett  review of last week’s live show.

On Thursday, March 5th, Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA) premiered its annual musical theater production of Hairspray, directed by FSSA drama teacher Mr. Cacciola-Price. The show has been stirring buzz since it was first announced in March 2019 after the school’s debut of The Phantom of the Opera. Sinatra’s musicals have always been praised. Last year’s production, The Phantom of the Opera was widely renowned by students and audience members alike, but something about Hairspray felt different from previous years. Maybe it’s the additional kick of nostalgia. Sinatra dance senior Ella DeLuca seems to think so.

You know the songs and they execute it so well. It really hit home,” she said.

The cast, crew, and pit have been rehearsing and preparing for the show since September 2019. And the show has been getting a lot of attention as news stations such as NY1, ABC, and FOX5 have showed up at the school.

The usual difficulties that the cast, crew, and pit experience with long rehearsals and the physical and mental exhaustion that come along with them is one thing the students have experienced.

“There’s a lot of time management you have to build throughout this entire process with your homework and your home life. You can’t really hang out with your friends as much if you always have rehearsal until 6:00pm including Saturdays,” Olivia Celis, a senior vocal major who is in the show said.

Yet, the general consensus was that these obstacles were worth overcoming for the final products. 

The cast also discussed the new discoveries they made throughout the rehearsal process as every run through helps them uncover new layers to their character.

“The fun of it is playing it a different way every single time. I don’t think I’ve ever played her the exact same way in a row,’ Madeline Greenberg said, a senior vocal major who plays Amber in the show. “The relationships you form onstage in that particular run kind of shape the way a show goes, especially playing the villain, I don’t want to say it was easier, but I definitely found so much joy in building a mean character that I didn’t expect.”

The set really brought Hairspray alive. Photo credit Abe Ariel Productions.

The show’s popularity added to the excitement of seeing the performance for many. It’s uplifting energy resonated throughout the Tony Bennett Concert Hall and kept the audience engaged.  

Like most Sinatra shows its relevancy was a main focus. Mr. Quest, an FSSA science teacher was moved by the show’s message of tolerance.

“It resonated with me because I am also a minority so some of those things that happened in Hairspray, I have experienced those things,” Mr. Quest said.

The show was brought to life through amazing sets, costumes, and makeup. From the Corny Collins show to Mr. Pinky’s, the set pieces perfectly matched the time period and aesthetic of the show. The actors were transformed through wigs and detailed costuming to become very accurate representations of their characters.

The portrayal of these iconic characters showcased the remarkable talents of these young actors. Each actor displayed a professionalism that matched performers on Broadway. Their dedication through countless hours of rehearsal was visible as they sang and danced their way flawlessly throughout the performances. They transformed themselves into their characters by capturing their essences and personalities. 

Ian Fernandez, a senior at Frank Sinatra was especially dazzled by this.

“I especially loved Len and Oscar as Edna and Wilbur. It was timeless to me,” he said. 

The most thrilling part of the show for many is seeing their classmates and students put on such notable performances. Mr. Quest touched on the admiration he has for his students.

“I appreciate the fact that some kids I see in class and I see them in one way and when I see them perform on stage then it develops a greater respect.”

– by Alexa Spellman ’20 and Maria Skevas ’20