‘Hairspray’ cast and crew bring classic show to life

A behind-the-scenes look at producing Parker’s summer musical


As director and choreographer of a larger-than-life production like “Hairspray,”Liane Adamo leaves no question unasked when working with the cast and crew:

“Was it a shimmy or a flick?” she asks of a hand movement for a dance move at a recent rehearsal.

Adamo, executive director of Inspire Creative, and her team have partnered with Parker Arts to develop the summer show, which opens July 14 and runs through Aug. 6 at the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker.

Cast and crew members have put in the hours — 20, 30, even 40 hours a week — to make every second count in the two-hour production. Whether they’re calling the shots, singing the songs or building the sets, each individual plays an important role in making the show a memorable experience.

The crew

Since the middle of May, stage technician Roderick Borden and his stagehands have been creating the set that scenic designer Michael Duran spent nearly a month conceptualizing.

“With PACE, we really try hard to make each set design different — to wow you in some different way,” said Borden, 34, one of more than 30 PACE Center stagehands and outside professionals working on “Hairspray.”

As the stage technician for PACE, he has built sets for many productions, but he considers “Hairspray” one of his most ambitious projects yet.

“We’re building rotating panels that will be automated to put you in different scenes and locations,” Borden said. “We really had to work as one big team when it came to figuring out how to create that.”

Stage manager Kelsea Heimlich, 25, employs problem-solving techniques, as well. She is responsible for communicating with the entire team, calling the show, and just about anything else that comes up along the way.

“It’s a lot longer of a process than people ever actually think it is, but it’s so rewarding,” Heimlich said. “It’s always interesting to work with different directors and find out how they want things done. This show’s been awesome because Liane is a really organic choreographer, and she’s brought the same thing into her directing.”

Adamo, usually a choreographer, is directing her first mainstage production. She has devoted hours to blocking scenes, recording dance moves and making suggestions to the crew. She often wakes up as early as four o’clock in the morning to get it all done.

“As lighthearted as this show is — and fun — there are some pretty pertinent points to the story,” she said. “So being able to express that in the arts is amazing.”

The cast

While the crew works to keep things running smoothly backstage, the cast attends rehearsals full of clever banter, nonstop laughter, and extremely hard work. Since their first rehearsal on May 15, they have met at the PACE Center three times a week to capture the show’s over-the-top essence.

“Working on a show like this is rare — it’s full of fun, and it’s got a huge cast with many different types of people,” said Laurence Katz, 32, the production’s Link Larkin. “You get to work with a lot of people and make a lot of friends.”

The process has been a long one for Katz and his fellow cast members, some of whom started preparing audition material — a song, a monologue and a dance audition — at the beginning of the year. The March auditions were open to the public and narrowed down a group of 200 actors to a cast of 34.

“Some people come from a professional place, and now they do this type of work for fun. Other people are young, maybe students,” Adamo said. “A lot of them go from show to show. This is their life outside of having a nine-to-five job.”

“I’m so honored to be part of this cast, because I think everyone’s so talented,” said Christy Oberndorf, 20, who will be playing the role of Penny Pingleton. “It’s like watching a cartoon, but with real-live people. All the characters are so big and ridiculous.”

Jessica Hall, the 27-year-old actress who will play Tracy Turnblad, also anticipates the opportunity to portray an iconic character in the production.

“It’s a little terrifying, but also exciting and wonderful,” she said. “The show takes a lot of collaboration, and I think our cast is blowing it out of the water.”

Hairspray, Parker Arts, Inspire Creative, Casey Van Divier


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