Community members come together to stage ‘Hairspray’ at JCC
Posted February 14, 2017
WEST BLOOMFIELD — It’s a coming together of veterans and newcomers.
The Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit’s Performing Arts in the J Players will perform “Hairspray” this week.
The PAIJ Players include “the most amazing cast of people,” co-director Elaine Smith said.
“They come from all walks of life, which is one of the greatest things about community theater — you build a community of people who love the arts, but that doesn’t mean you come from an arts world,” she said.
Smith went on to list cast members, including a local dentist and community theater veteran performer of 26 years who will play Wilbur, the father to lead character Tracy Turnblad. She also said a mother-daughter duo and a father-daughter duo are among the 40 cast members.
“We accepted pretty much everybody who was age-appropriate into the cast, and they are phenomenal,” Smith said.
Smith said that professional directors and designers from The Berman Center for the Performing Arts and local actors make up the PAIJ Players.
The group will stage the musical at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15-16, 8 p.m. Feb. 18, and 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Feb. 19 at The Berman, 6600 W. Maple Road.
Cast member Erin Smith plays Tracy Turnblad, who has a passion for singing and dancing, and the segregation of the 1960s serves as a backdrop.
Erin Smith, 23, of Ferndale, said she has been “blessed” to play the role of Tracy.
“It is a lot of hard work, but the show is wonderful, and it is coming together so beautifully,” she said of what she called the role of a lifetime. “(It is) not very often you get to say, ‘I’m playing a 16-year-old chubby girl from the ’60s who is completely against segregation and changes everyone’s mind about it.’ … It’s amazing.”
Erin Smith — who is in a band called Bocca Musica known for its performances at the Michigan Renaissance Festival and around the world — said she hopes to be a part of the PAIJ Players for years to come.
“It’s definitely a much bigger responsibility, and the payoff will be totally worth it,” she said. “It’s every girl’s dream to play Tracy in ‘Hairspray,’” she said, adding that her mother encouraged her to audition for the part. “My mom raised me in theater.”
Elaine Smith said that the PAIJ Players have been around for six years and stage three shows per year, with productions coming in the fall, in early winter and in early spring; they also plan to do a show as part of the JCC’s day camp for kids ages 5-12.
“This would be our third summer doing that,” she said of the day camp productions. “This year we are doing ‘Alice in Wonderland Jr.’”
Elaine Smith added that the community theater mixed with professional production is their ticket to success.
“I think it is going to be a really exciting thing for the community to see what we can do,” she said. “Hopefully, they will join and become a part of it — you don’t have to be an actor to be part of the PAIJ Players.”
To purchase tickets, call (248) 661-1900 or visit www.theberman.org.
About the author
Staff Writer Sherri Kolade covers Farmington, Farmington Hills, Farmington Public Schools, and Oakland Community College for the Press. Sherri Kolade has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2013 and graduated from Central Michigan University.
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