Backstage Pass: Behind the Scenes of Salisbury University’s Hairspray The Musical

I am not a theatre kid. I watch theatre, I appreciate theatre, I am a theatre advocate, but I will not call myself a theatre kid. To earn that term, one should participate in the extremely strenuous and fulfilling work that comes with the theatre. Rehearsals for hours upon hours, losing your voice, dancing until your muscles ache, memorizing lines and cues, and making the same scene just as impactful every night. I have not had this experience; therefore, I am not a theatre kid.

While I admire those in the theatre and their hard work, the term “theatre kid” often comes with negative or silly connotations. In film and television, these are the people who are portrayed as nerds or drama queens. Even in a college setting, theatre and other arts are looked down upon as opposed to STEM majors.

To reveal the true life that a theatre kid leads and to give some insight on the production, I interviewed three cast members of Salisbury University's Hairspray the musical: Jeremiah Copeland, Glory Ngwe, and Imari Pyles.

Hey guys. Tell me a little about yourself, year, major, etc.

Jeremiah: My academic year is a sophomore. I am a dual major in music and theatre.

Glory: I’m a first year but sophomore by credits and a Communication Arts- Multimedia Journalism major.

Imari: I am a Freshman. I double major in theatre performance and production.

 

How long have you been in Theatre? How many productions have you done?

Jeremiah: I have been in theatre for a year and a half. I have been in four productions.

Glory:  This is my second semester in theatre. I’ve been in two productions so far; It’s a Musical and now Hairspray.

Imari: I have been acting since the fifth grade and have been in 22 plays, 2 short films, and 12 choral performances.

 

If you acted in High School, how do you think being in Theatre at SU is different? Do you think there is a stigma typically associated with “theatre kids”?

Jeremiah: I did not do theatre in high school…

Glory: I did not act in high school. I was always a part of dance teams but I believe that there is a stigma with theatre kids. People see them as extremely weird individuals.

Imari: I went to a performing arts high school where I was a theatre major. College theatre is way more intense than high school. The rehearsals here run all the way up to 11 on a week night and even later during tech week. We actually make the costumes here, and the sets are so elaborate that we start building them before rehearsals even begin. Doing theatre in college has definitely helped prepare me for the rigor of the professional acting world.

As for the stigma behind being a "theatre kid," I think that people should realize that all types of people are involved with theatre; we aren't all loud and charismatic, we all don't sing and dance, and we don't all walk around in scarves quoting Shakespeare. Don’t get me wrong, there are many who do.  I’m just saying there is no one type of theatre kid, which is what makes theatre great; the variety of people endures unique performances from everyone. No two people will ever play a role the same way because they are different people with different experiences.

 

I understand that you’ve been in rehearsals nearly every day. I imagine it gets tiring. How do you get through it?

Jeremiah: Yes, the rehearsals can be long and tedious; however, performing is what I love to do.

Glory: Yes! Rehearsal is every day, expect Saturdays, from 7-10pm, sometimes 11. It’s tiring but I’m used to it now. I love performing and working with extremely talented people. Having my friends on the same cast also helps.

Imari: I love theatre and performing arts so much that I have no choice but to cope with being tired. The professional world demands a lot in whatever career you choose, and those who keep pushing themselves are the ones who make it far. I am 1000% determined to be one of those people. I have dedicated the majority of my life to my craft and I want to see it pay off, so the bigger picture of ending up where I want to be is a constant motivation.

 

Do you think you will continue to perform in the future?

Jeremiah: I desire to further my education in the performing arts so yes, I will be performing in the future!

Glory: I do hope to perform a bit in the future. Even though it is not my major nor career path. I would still love to perform.

Imari: I will most definitely be performing professionally as my career. There's no other job that would make me a fraction as happy as acting does.

 

Tell me a little about your role. Who is your character? Are you anything like your character? Do you prefer being yourself or playing your character onstage?

Jeremiah: My character is Seaweed J. Stubbs! He is a very energetic, fun, talented, and smooth black teenage boy. I believe he is one of the bridges that unites the black and white people together to integrate. I love being onstage, but I love both being myself and putting myself into another character and portraying what they feel and how they behave.

Glory: In Hairspray, I play the character of Lorraine. She is a part of the African-American cast. She’s the only African-American female who isn’t a Dynamite and she’s always hanging out and dancing with the boys. She does remind me of myself because she’s sassy and she expresses that through her dance moves, which is a lot like me.

Imari: In Hairspray, I play Dynamite #1 who is a member of a trio girl singing group. We are modeled after the Supremes. My character doesn't speak, but she definitely has a stage presence and that’s where we are similar.

 

What’s your favorite line/song?

Jeremiah: My favorite song is “Baltimore Krabs” because is such a shady song. Haha.

Glory: My favorite song is “Run and Tell That” and my favorite line is “If we get anymore white people in here, this gon’ be a suburb.”

Imari: My favorite song is "Welcome to the 60's" because that’s where the Dynamites showcase their talented and African-American women are shown to be beautiful and glamorous as the white women in the cast. It's our moment to shine as a sex, as a race, and as individuals.

 

One reason people should go see Hairspray!

Jeremiah: People should come see this show because their colleagues are in it! Come and support! This show is here for you to experience more than just words! There is a powerful message behind this beautiful production. Come discover what it is!

Glory: People should come see Hairspray because it talks about taboo issues and opens discussions. Plus, it has an amazing soundtrack!

Imari: I think people should come see Hairspray because it deals with issues that have always plagued our society such as racism, inequality, and body shaming.

Hairspray opens at Salisbury University on April 6, 2018 and runs for two weekends. Come see what these talented people are made of!