The Pacheco High Thespian Society promises a little comedy, a lot of song and dance, and a message of tolerance when it performs “Hairspray” tonight.
Drama teacher Gary Bettencourt said he chose the production for its familiarity and its message.
“We haven’t done a musical yet and a lot of kids know it, a lot of people know it,” he said. “And I think the message is good. Even though the issues don’t register now the way it did, it’s still relevant. “We still have different types of oppression, different types of discrimination.”
The musical is set in the 1960s when a heavy-set girl, Tracy Turnblad, attempts to get on a music variety show by entering a contest. She is initially rejected because of her size and others are turned away because of their race, causing a push for integration. Naomi Keith, who plays the musical’s protagonist, said she’s wanted to perform the role since fifth grade.
“It been my dream and, in my senior year, to be in one of my favorite shows, it’s awesome,” said Keith, who plays Tracy Turnblad.
Ciara Emery had a different reaction to her role as Velma Von Tussle. “It’s hard for me because my character is really, really racist,” Emery said. “I’m just walking around really mad. That’s hard for me — to get into that mindset.”
Alex Parker said he’s enjoying portraying his character. Parker plays Tracy’s mother Edna Turnblad. “It’s something new for me to do, I never played a lady before,” he said.
Parker’s female classmates said he’s “pretty good” and “very comical” in his role.
Emillo Huerta, who plays Seaweed J. Stubbs, said there’s a stark difference between the demeanor of the character and his own.
“(My character) is like this smooth little black kid who dances amazing, I’m not that guy,” he said.
Rave Phillips plays a member of the Dynamites singing group in the play. She said she believes the play’s subject matter has educational value.
“It’s a good eye-opener, let everyone know in a fun way. Sometimes kids don’t listen to history, so this gets the kids to come and be like, ‘OK, this is what happened,’” Philips said.
Performances of “Hairspray” will be in Pacheco High’s Performing Arts Building, 200 N. Ward Road. The play will run for two weekends, with shows at 7 p.m. Friday and 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday.