FLINT TWP. — Upcoming performances of the award-winning musical “Hairspray” at Carman-Ainsworth High School is drawing its cast from high schools countywide.
Cynthia Risch, a 2017 Davison High School graduate, will play the title role of Tracy Turnblad, a Baltimore teenager who uses her celebrity status to champion integration of a local television dance show.
She is joined in the cast by six Davison High School students – Madeline Daunt in the role of Penny Pingleton; Gabrielle Slezak in the role of Amber Vontussle; Peyton Sparks in the role of Brad, Megan Duncan in the role of Shelly Georgia Brewer as Dorreen and Allison Gerkin as Brenda.
The cast also features two students from Grand Blanc High School, two from Flushing High School and one from Flushing Springview Elementary School; 12 C-A students and one homeschooled Burton student.
“I have wanted to do this for years and I finally have some colleagues that were willing to do it with me,” said Delynne Miller, CAHS theater director. Frank Pitts is the music director and Rebecca Dupuis is the choreographer, she said. Also look for CAHS teacher Tom Klee in a small role as the Flasher.
It is the first time C-A theater has put on a performance outside of the school year, Miller said. She descried the production as “intense” because it is being put together in five and a half weeks instead of the 10-12 weeks of preparation devoted to most high school performances.
Miller is calling it a theater workshop because it is an educational opportunity for students, especially those interested in theater careers. It gives them a chance to work with different people on a show that might be done differently than at their home school, she said.
“Some kids graduate from high school who might be interested in going into theater and they have only worked with one director the whole time they have been in high school,” Miller said.
“It really is like the best of the best from each of these schools,” she said of the diverse cast.
Anjewel Lenoir, a CAHS junior who is cast in the key role as Little Inez, likes her character because it is very different from her.
“I like to play someone who is not me,” she said. “It lets me push myself a bit.” Lenoir has been participating in theater since eighth grade but this year started getting “real roles,” she said.
Risch in the lead role also has theater background at Davison High School and also in the Clio Cast and Crew production of “Legally Blonde.” She will be a theater major at the University of Michigan-Flint in the fall.
“My favorite thing about this (Hairspray) is I am getting lots of dance experience and I have never had this many speaking lines,” she said. She added that she has made a lot of new friends in the cast and described the C-A community as very welcoming.
Griffin Yeater, a sophomore at Grand Blanc High School, is playing the role of Link Larkin, the heartthrob who becomes Tracy’s boyfriend.
He also happens to be Miller’s son and has been involved in theater since he was about three years old, he said. “This is my career path,” he said. “It’s been like seven years since I’ve done a show with my mom so to be able to do that again with her is incredible,” he said. Audrey Dupuis, who is a fifth-grader at Flushing Springview Elementary School, has had roles in many C-A productions, she said.
“I like it because we are all like family. We all come together as friends and I feel we have a special bond with each other,’’ she said. She’s playing the role of Noreen, one of the nice kids in the play.
With the arts facing economic challenges, it is nice to be able to offer an outlet for students who enjoy performing, Miller said.
“Some of these kids get minimal opportunities to perform at their home schools.”
The play will be presented in the C-A high school auditorium at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 22; Friday, June 23 and Saturday, June 24.
Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased online at www.showtix4u.com.