Hairspray Jr. brings impressive dance, great music, and important issues to the QVMS stage


Grant Huddleston, Staff Reporter

Hairspray Jr. is not what you may expect from an average middle school play.

With the Civil Rights Movement serving as the backdrop for the story and integrated dancing being a hot-button issue for the main characters, the show certainly highlights important topics.

Hairspray is about a girl named Tracy Turnblad, played by Quaker Valley eighth grader Alaina Floro. Tracy, a girl with big dreams, just landed a role on the Baltimore-famous Corny Collins Show, a television program that takes the best teenage dancers in Baltimore and gives them a beat to dance to.

The show takes place in the 1960s, a time when racial inequality was pervasive throughout the country.  Once a month, the Corny Collins Show features  “Negro Day”, a program that allows African American teens to participate.  On all other days, the Corny Collins Show features an all-caucasian cast.

Tracy wishes to make the show integrated on a regular basis after befriending an African American boy named Seaweed; this raises controversy throughout Baltimore.

A show with such weighty themes could be difficult for a middle school cast to pull off.  Mr. Valenzi, director of the show, is confident in his cast.  He said, “I have the right talent for it. You always cast based on the kids you have.”

Even though the show takes place in the 1960s and deals with some tough concepts, Mr. Valenzi said that it is for everyone. Additionally, Mr. Valenzi believes that these concepts are still relevant today.

In order to prepare the cast to take on a musical with such important topics, Mr. Valenzi went into the history of the Civil Rights Movement with the cast.

“Since the Civil Rights Movement and integration are critical parts of the show, Mr. Valenzi began our first rehearsal with a presentation on the growth of the movement, from slavery through the Jim Crow south, up to the 1960s,” said Mrs. Forrest, assistant director in the show.

“We felt it was important for kids to understand the bravery of people who worked for integration.  The characters in this show would have to show courage to be willing to break color barriers and call for all people to have equality at that time,” she continued.

Eighth grader Evan Monski plays Seaweed. Monski described the importance of his character, saying, “I am one of Tracy’s best friends and I’m dating her best friend.  I’m black and she’s white, and it’s obviously a big deal in [the show’s] time period.”

Seaweed is not the show’s only strong character.  Alaina Floro explained, “Tracy Turnblad is fun, very different, and stands up for herself; and she’s very strong.”

Clara Brooks talked about what makes her character, Tracy’s mother, Edna, so interesting.  “She goes from being inside her house in her shell as a laundress to being this big, beautiful lady.”

Almost all of the cast members find challenges in the intense dancing. They aren’t exaggerating. The dancing in this show is not what you would expect from an average middle school play.  

Jordan Coury, who plays Link, a featured cast member and teen heartthrob on the Corny Collins Show, talked about the complexity of his character.  “Link may seem like a jerk, but truly he’s not one.  I mean, in the end, he proved that looks don’t mean anything to him,” he said.

From the music and choreography to the point of the show itself, this is definitely something special.

Hairspray Jr. opens this Friday, November 18, at 7:00.  Tickets can be purchased at