Theater

At Plano Children's Theatre, They've Shampooed All the Black Kids out of Hairspray


You need two things when you do the musical Hairspray: a fat girl to play the lead character, Tracy Turnblad, and a bunch of African-American kids to play the African-American kids. There are about a dozen roles for young black performers in this show, plus one for a big black lady who closes out the first act with the showstopper "Big, Blonde and Beautiful."

So out at Plano Children's Theatre right now, they're doing Hairspray without those things. The girl playing Tracy is wearing padding to puff up. (This isn't a role like Cyrano where you can slap a big nose on a pretty face and get away with it. Tracy is supposed to be chubbo to start with.) And there are no black kiddos in the show. None. The roles of Seaweed, Mother Maybelle and all the other black Baltimoreans are being played by kids so white they make the Cleavers look ethnic.

Somebody tipped me off via email to this all-teen production, which runs through February 12. I don't normally review shows at PCT, one of those pay-for-play outfits that charges parents $250 a pop for their kids to be on the stage. PCT styles itself as an academy. Their motto is "developing characters."

I went to the Saturday, January 28, matinee of PCT's Hairspray, bought a $10 ticket and watched the show. Or most of it. I left after my intermission interviews with people on the staff. I'd seen enough by then. My emotional/ethical elevator had already pushed the button for the floor marked "High Dudgeon."

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Elaine Liner
Contact: Elaine Liner