I fell in love with Hairspray when I was 15 years old. Ok, maybe it wasn't love yet...more like a big giant crush. This was before I had even seen the show--but my original cast recording was VERY loved, and I think there was a two month period where I forced my mom to play it in the car everywhere we went. I finally saw the show a year later...and then I really fell in love.
For a 16 year old girl who loved singing and dancing more than anything but who wasn't fully comfortable in her own skin yet (and yes, I'm talking about me, not Tracy Turnblad), finally having a character like Tracy to relate to was almost more than I could handle. When she sang I Can Hear the Bells, I cried and cried. It's so funny, because I think that song annoys a lot of people (it certainly annoyed all my friends who called me when I was in high school, thanks to my sweet ringback tone), but it might actually be my favorite part of the show. I think it's when you really fall in love with Tracy. Here is this person who people constantly discourage because of how she looks, but she will not be swayed. She is fully convinced that she can get everything she's ever dreamed of having, and then she DOES. She gets to sing and dance on TV even though she doesn't look the "type." She gets her dream guy. She succeeds at bringing people together even though society says it's not what's supposed to happen. Yes, I know (and knew at the time) that it's a musical comedy which is destined to have a happy ending, but when that final curtain went down, 16-year-old Shannon was irrevocably changed. I was completely inspired by the message the show sends and I knew that someday I had to play that part--not just because it's the lead, but because I wanted to have the chance to inspire someone else, to spread some Tracy-like confidence to another 16 year old girl who had big dreams but insecurities about achieving them.
And now it's finally happening. This is my chance. Am I focused on the music, the dances, and the scene work? Of course. But if just ONE person walks away from this show feeling better about who they are and what they're capable of achieving--I will have done my job--even if I forget the turn in You Can't Stop the Beat, or if my wig change means I end up looking like Tina Turner.
So I know I have been pestering everyone with eyes (thanks for the help Facebook and Gmail!) since I got in this show...but come see it. I have never been more proud to be part of something, and it's a show that everyone needs to see at least once (and the movie doesn't count). I cannot stop raving about my cast...there is not a weak link (no that's not a pun). All of the principals are fantastic, and our ensemble is RIDICULOUS and I love them all. And our crew has not disappointed either...our wigs, sets, and costumes are spectacular, a lot of our choreography is straight from Broadway, our orchestra is sick...do I have to keep going? My cousin came to rehearsal last night and was obsessed.
SO. Buy your tickets today! I keep checking, and every day more and more are gone! Opening weekend is sold out...don't wait and then find you can't come because tickets are gone (and our producers, who have been working for LTA for years and years, predict a completely sold out run)! Tickets can be purchased here by clicking on the big Hairspray can!
I love you all. And I hope that today all your dreams will come true. :)
-Shannon Kingett (playing Tracy Turnbald in LTA's Hairspray)
To read more from Shannon, visit her blog here.
Shannon Kingett is a James Madison University 2010 graduate with a degree in musical theatre. She is the operations manager for the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra. This is her first LTA performance. Her favorite theater credits include Sarah Brown (Guys and Dolls), Bloody Mary (South Pacific), and Woman 1 (Songs for a New World). She was also a backup singer for Ben Folds. She would like to dedicate this performance to Mrs. Smith and Jim. Love and miss you sky big.
Shannon Kingett (Tracy) and Sam Jones (Link Larkin)
Photography: Doug Olmsted