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Great hair days: ‘Hairspray’ show says ‘Welcome to the ’60s!’

The nicest kids in town: The Jeff Samaha Theater production of “Hairspray” features elaborate backdrops that convey its 1960s setting, such this groovy set for “The Corny Collins Show.”
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It’s a big show about big hair!

An oversized local production of the musical “Hairspray” will shake and shimmy its way onto the stage of High School of Telecommunications in Bay Ridge for eight performances starting on Oct. 7. The show — from Jeff Samaha Theater Production and Ridge Chorale, and based on the 1988 John Waters film — follows the vivacious teen Tracy Turnblad, who does not let her weight keep her from starring on a dance show in 1962 Baltimore. For 19-year-old Gianna Sciortino, who portrays the plus-sized dance queen, landing the role was just as momentous as her character winning a spot on “The Corny Collins Show.”

“It’s amazing because since I’m overweight, it’s hard to be cast as certain parts because they are always looking for a certain image. So I think it’s really cool that they gave me this opportunity,” said Sciortino, who lives in Mill Basin. “The show gives a good message for people who are overweight — no matter what shape or size or ethnicity you are, you’re always welcome.”

Sciortino feels right at home playing Turnblad — she can’t wait to show the world she’s “a big girl now.”

“I always felt like we’ve had a connection growing up and saw myself as her,” said Sciortino. “I’m counting down the days.”

The Bay Ridge community theater group’s production will be as over-the-top as Turnblad’s beehive hairdo, with sets nearly as extravagant as the ones on Broadway, said producer Karen Tadross. One highlight is the enormous can of hairspray that provides a dramatic entrance for Turnblad’s mother Edna, she said.

“It features a 12-foot tall hairspray can,” said Tadross. “Edna comes popping out of the hairspray can, so it not only had to be built, it also had to be practical and had to be spectacular, which this will be.”

And the 45-person cast of young adults have taken their voices to new heights, and will put on a show worthy of a Tony, said executive producer Jeff Samaha, who also conducts the 15-member orchestra in 1960s-style dance music and rhythm and blues.

“We are as close to professional as you can get for a community group — the voices are terrific, the lead performers are excellent. They’re very talented young people who are working really hard to pull this all together,” he said.

Samaha’s group, which has been producing full-book musicals since 2002, regularly wows audience with its productions, said Tadross.

“People who come see our shows sometimes walk out and say it’s better than Broadway,” she said.

“Hairspray” at the High School of Telecommunications [350 67th St. between Third and Fourth avenues in Bay Ridge, (718) 989–9566, www.jeffsamaha.com]. Oct. 7–16, Fri at 8 pm, Sat at 2 pm and 8 pm, Sun at 3 pm. $25 ($15 kids).

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Michael from Bay Ridge says:
I love the sets and costumes - this looks like a great production.
It would be nice if they did different shows than what's playing on Broadway, but this still looks fun.
Oct. 7, 2016, 7:08 am

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