Salem Community Theatre staging ‘Hairspray, The Musical’ Aug. 2-11

SALEM – Salem Community Theatre brings to its stage, “Hairspray, The Musical,” weekends from Friday, Aug. 2 through Sunday, Aug. 11.

Veteran John Zamarelli, West Branch High School choir and theater department director, has assembled an energetic cast of over 40 actors who have come from all over the area to participate in this entertaining production.

“Hairspray” is a musical with music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman, based on the 1988 John Waters film Hairspray. The songs include 1960s-style dance music and “downtown” rhythm and blues, and is set during a time of change in racial relations and attitudes.

In 1962, Baltimore, Md., “pleasantly plump” teenager Tracy Turnblad (played by Morgan Zamarelli) has a dream to dance on The Corny Collins Show, a local TV dance program (based on the real-life Buddy Deane Show), and works at attracting the attention of one of the show’s regulars, heart-throb Link Larkin (played by SCT newcomer Nick Caruso) while alienating Nick’s girlfriend, Amber Von Tussle (Boardman’s Rachel Ruggieri).

When Tracy finally wins a role on the show, she becomes a celebrity overnight. She then launches a campaign to integrate the show, thus adding to the plot an underlying social commentary on the injustices of parts of American society in the 1960s. All the while, the antics and attitudes of Tracy’s parents (Tracy’s father, Wilbur, played by Jeff Cornfield, owns a joke shop) and make for outrageous fun, in the tradition of the writer of the original “Hairspray,” John Waters.

SCT’s cast includes Parker Zamarelli as Corny Collins, SCT veteran Tyler Stouffer as Tracy’s mother, Edna Turnblad (in the role created in the movie version by John Travolta); Julia Harris as Tracy’s best friend Penny Pingleton, and Alaina Felgar in the role of Amber’s mother, Velma Von Tussle.

In addition, KSU Theatre major William Tipton stars as Seaweed J. Stubbs, Tracy’s dynamic newly-found dance partner, who, with his mother, Motormouth Maybelle (Youngstown’s Lois Thornton) teach Tracy all the right moves to capture the hearts and minds of Baltimore TV audiences.

The cast has come from a four-county area to participate in this highly regarded and widely anticipated show, popular with youth and adults alike.

The original Broadway production of “Hairspray” ran seven years, and garnered eight Tony Awards after opening there in 2002. The show is packed full of tuneful songs, which harken back to the melodic and rhythmic sounds of the early 60’s, and dance numbers that rock the stage with energy.

It has been several years since Zamarelli has directed at SCT, but when the opportunity arose, he decided quickly to get involved. “I’ve wanted to do this show at my school for some time, because of the great music and the dancing but wasn’t able to assemble the right cast.” Not only is he the director for the production, but he is acting as music director and set designer as well.

SCT Managing Director Gary Kekel has worked as musical director with Zamarelli on a number of productions at West Branch High School, and explains that he was the obvious choice for this job. “We needed someone who could relate to the cast, step in and take control on multiple levels, and John has a great reputation at West Branch for putting on spectacular and well-produced shows. He’s a one-man dynamo with the energy, talent, connections and vision to get it all done!”

SCT’s production of “Hairspray” is sponsored by Harrington, Hoppe and Mitchell, LTD, a law firm with offices in Salem, Youngstown and Warren and more than 20 lawyers dedicated to matters related to business and employment, oil and gas, estate planning and local government. The firm will also host a reception following the performance on opening night.

Reserved-seat tickets for “Hairspray, the Musical” are $14 for adults, $10 for senior citizens over 62, and $8 for students, and are on sale now at SCT, 490 E. State St.

Performances begin at 8 p.m. Aug. 2, 3, 9 and 10; and 2 p.m. Aug. 4 and 11.

For tickets and more information call the SCT box office at 330-332-9688 or go to