SAN ANTONIO — Four San Antonio I.S.D. high schools are working together on a theater production of Hairspray Jr. The project demonstrates acceptance of people from a variety of backgrounds.
Stepping into rehearsal within Burbank High School’s massive auditorium, there is a flurry of activity. Costumes fly off the racks, brushes pull through unruly wigs and the tap of intricate dance choreography echoes across the stage.
The team of students is more than meets the eye. The actors are not classmates. For this show, teens from Brackenridge, Burbank, Edison and Lanier are joining forces.
"It changes your mentality,” said Elyn Barahona from Edison High School. He plays Link Larkin in the show alongside students from other high schools. “It shows that everything will soon become like a team effort. Either way, you're going to have to work with somebody in your life. So why not do it an early stage so you can learn from it?"
In a play about accepting people who don't look like you, the theme is being played out among the very students cast in lead roles.
"My director has a really good vision,” said Faith Mitchell from Lanier High School. “[She makes] sure that it's not just one type of person or one type of personality. It's really open for everybody because everybody's gifted with different things."
Mitchell was cast as Tracy Turnblad. The character goes head-to-head with Amber Von Tussle on segregation and body images in the entertainment world.
"As a kid, I watched hairspray and [Tracy] was kind of like the first character that was plus size that was a leading role in a movie,” said Mitchell. “I kind of looked up to her … maybe big girls can be in movies and they can do this type of work. It motivates me."
Bringing Amber to life is an acting challenge for Jackie Valdazo. The Burbank student says she’s only able to shine as a villain because of help from cast members without any lines.
"The tech people help a lot. If it wasn't for them, we would not be performing,” said Valdazo. “We'd be backstage singing like crazy people. They keep us in check. It really helps."
The production brings together different schools, different nationalities and different experience levels. The students use their unique voices in harmony to create a sweet and spicy melody.
"This is my first time ever singing for a production,” said Edizon Estrada form Brackenridge High School. His role as Corny Collins involves a lot of singing. “Everybody keeps telling me I'm really good. I really appreciate it."
Hairspray Jr. Showtimes are Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m., and each campus will host two-night performances. Tickets are $6 in advance or $8 at the door.
Nov. 29 | 30 @ Burbank HS Auditorium, 1002 Edwards St.
Dec. 6 | 7 @ Lanier HS Auditorium, 1514 W. Cesar E. Chavez Blvd.
Dec. 13 | 14 @ Brackenridge HS Auditorium, 400 Eagleland Drive
Dec. 20 | 21 @ Edison HS Auditoirum, 701 Santa Monica Blvd.