Welcome back to the ’60s — “Hairspray,” the classic Broadway musical set in civil rights-era Baltimore, is touring local parks and other venues, too, this summer.
Like the 2007 movie adaptation starring Great Neck’s Nikki Blonsky (and John Travolta, of course), Plaza Theatrical Productions’ 26-member cast features a Long Island woman in the role of segregation-busting teen Tracy Turnblad.
“This has been a dream role of mine,” says Bridget Guardino, 23, of Bellmore, a recent SUNY Cortland musical theater graduate who is making her Long Island theater debut. Guardino will be belting out the opening number, “Good Morning, Baltimore,” dancing the Madison and helping integrate the musical’s fictional “Corny Collins Show.”
Guardino, who works as a Town of Hempstead lifeguard and is also an Irish step dancer, says she prepared for the role by studying all the actresses who have played Tracy — including Blonsky. “I’ll be doing my own approach,” says Guardino, “plus a little bit of all of them.”
STAGING A CLASSIC
You still can’t stop the beat of “Hairspray,” with its message of tolerance and inclusion set to toe-tapping dance and rhythm-and-blues numbers.
“ ‘Hairspray’ literally gets audiences up and dancing during the show,” says Lon Hoyt, a Seaford native and MacArthur High School graduate who was musical director of 11 professional “Hairspray” productions, including the Broadway, movie and NBC live versions.
“Hairspray has a wonderful message about following your dreams, tolerance and acceptance,” says Kevin F. Harrington, Plaza’s president, who is producing and directing the show. In addition to outdoor shows in the parks, a luncheon performance — a popular option for seniors, Harrington says — will be staged at the Westbury Manor catering hall.
A 16-piece orchestra plays the Tony-winning score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. This production also retains quirky props, such as a big hairspray can onstage during the “You Can’t Stop the Beat” finale.
SOME LOCAL STARS
Among members of the cast is Mark Manning, 18, of Bellport, who plays Seaweed, an African-American teen who helps Tracy Turnblad integrate “The Corny Collins Show.”
“I’ve wanted to play this part since fifth grade,” says Manning, who graduated last year from Patchogue-Medford High School and is currently a music industry major at The College of Saint Rose in Albany. “The songs he [Seaweed] sings are just amazing.”
Also in the cast: David Arzberger, 35, of Ozone Park, a New York City music and arts teacher who dons a “fat suit,” wig and house dress to play Edna Turnblad, Tracy’s housebound mama.
Arzberger says that through “stage magic,” audiences will see his character undergo a quick costume change in the show’s rousing “Welcome to the 60s” number.
“It takes 40 seconds to transform me from the frumpy Edna to the gorgeous Edna,” he says.
INFO 516-599-6870, plazatheatrical.com
7 p.m. July 13: New Hyde Park Memorial Park, Lincoln Avenue, New Hyde Park. Free admission (516-354-0323)
6 p.m. July 14: Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park, Oyster Bay. Free admission (516-922-9200)
Noon July 19 and Aug. 2: Westbury Manor, 1100 Jericho Tpke., Westbury; $46 includes lunch
2 p.m. July 23: The Showplace at Bellmore Movies, 222 Pettit Ave., Bellmore; $28 ($20 ages 60 and older, and students with ID)
7 p.m. Aug. 5: Manorhaven Beach Park, Manorhaven Boulevard, Port Washington. Free admission (516-767-4618)