Articles, Blog

Golden West College Theater Arts: “The Making of HAIRSPRAY,” the Broadway Musical

(rhythmic clicking of
computer / soundboard keys) (cast, sound, stage, A/V
crew all chatter nervously) – Like a one, two, dah dah
dah, da da dum, ba bah, bum (brass instruments
crescendo on single note) (nervous backstage
chatter grows louder) (happy soothing
acoustic guitar music) -The immediacy of theater is really important to
me, and I like that we rehearse things, and it
is immediate and it is live, and while it can alter a
little bit every performance, you’re trying to replicate
in many circumstances, the performance, so that it’s
the same within a framework. – It’s all very colorful. There’s nothing drab
in the show ever. Yeah, so you know the color
palette that, you know, so… – At our first
production meeting, I
go to every department, the musical director, the scenic
designer, costume designer, sound designer,
lighting designer, and
we kinda touch base. Is there something in
particular you wanna do? Is there something special
you need equipment-wise or looks-wise that
we kind of have to… I need to give you, in terms of the
production itself? – I was looking for clowns on
velvet. You know, with a… – [Red-Haired Woman]
No, no I can’t. No animals on velvet either. – Oh, come on. – If you want to come to
auditions, you can come watch. – At seven? – Yes, seven. – Good evening everyone,
my name is Martie Ramm. I am the Director of Production for this wonderful production. This is my assistant, Sarah. I kind of have an idea
of what every character needs to be. Doesn’t
mean physically, but what the essence
of the characters are. (“Welcome to the 60’s”) – [Martie Narrating]
The character of Tracy had to have a certain energy. I was really looking for
someone who was energetic, and not just cute, but
energetic, and had a real spark. ♪ So let go go go
of the past now ♪ ♪ Say hello to the
love in your heart ♪ ♪ Yes I know that the
world’s spinning fast now ♪ ♪ You gotta get yourself
a brand new start ♪ ♪ Hey mama welcome
to the sixties ♪ ♪ Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh ♪ ♪ Oh mama welcome
to the sixties ♪ ♪ Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh ♪ ♪ Go mama go go go ♪ (piano melody) – [Martie Narrating] I
want the actors to solve my problems for me. I want them to come
in and be wonderful. Because the better I cast, the better the
play’s going to be. But auditioning, I
give every opportunity for them to give
me their best shot. (piano accompanies dance number) Most of the time, I’m blessed
with a lot of choices. So after I’ve
auditioned everybody, and I’ve auditioned them again and I’ve kinda gotten
down to the nitty-gritty, as it were, the end
result, then I can sit down with my musical director
and my assistant, really kind of sit down and say, well of these two people who
do I think is gonna be better? Or who do I think
is the right choice? I will name that person, the
musical director concurs, my assistant concurs, the
stage manager concurs, and then we’re ready to go. But I trust my gut a lot. And I can’t really
say how that works, except that I trust
when my gut’s saying, “That’s the right actor”. So I listen to what my
instincts are telling me and I go from there. (muffled announcements) I don’t expect every
actor to have it completely in the auditions. I am looking for an
actor that I can teach, train, work with to get
the result that I want. …and Kyra, and Noel Howl. The rest of you,
thank you very much, and that’s all I
need from you today. (soft drum beat) Here at Golden West
College, we are blessed with a wonderful
theater facility. And it’s like a small town
really that all are working for one objective, which
is producing the musical. So, we have a scene
shop here and we have Classified Staff Members
who work in the scene shop and help us to realize
our scenic designs. So we have a full
working scene shop with tools and wood and
paint and all the things that go into creating the
sets and props for theater. And it’s very much
a hands-on thing. (circular saw buzzes loudly) – Well the basic process in
doing plays and musicals, everything starts
from the script, so we get the script,
we read through, that actually tells you
where the show takes place, what sort of things
happen in the show. So we know we need
a record shop, we know we need the bedrooms,
all those different things. So the designer, which is
Tim, one of our instructors, he takes that
information and then he works with the director
and comes up with drawings. He’ll come up with
the color schemes, the basic shapes, how
many different wagons, how many things fly in and out. He does drawings like this. These are some working drawings. This one is Penny’s bedroom.
So he’ll give us a basic look and the dimensions as
to how big the thing is, how it rolls, and we’ve got
all the different things on paper here, and we basically
build off his designs. (reciprocating
saw buzzes loudly) (nail gun pops, driving
nails into wood) (handheld power sander whirs) (indiscernible shop talk) So this one with the
window right here is the window unit
right back there. So that’s pretty
much ready for paint, and Sue will be painting
that pretty soon (laughs). So this show is constantly
changing scenes, we go from one bedroom,
we’ve got another bedroom, we go to the record shop,
we go to Tracy’s bedroom. We’ve got outside The Hut. These are all pieces
that will roll in, and we have other
pieces that will fly in, and things are constantly
changing in this show so every scene has got its
own pieces coming in and out. The only thing that stays
in place is there’ll be one backdrop that’s
kind of a sixties theme, and that will stay up in front of the cycle for the whole show. The rest of it will be
either rolling or flying. And of course that’s
a fly rail over there, that’s how we control
scenery that comes in from the battens above. That’s our rigging
system over there. We will have several things
flying in for the musical. (soft lively piano music) – Yeah, so see above all
the PARs right there? – Yeah, so all of them
are right next to ’em? – Yeah just right on top of ’em. – Are those already
all of the electrics? – Yeah. – So we have to get those down? – Yeah, we have to get those
down. (background chatter) – So you are playing Ms. Prudy,
with these gorgeous glasses. – Nice! I love them. – Aren’t they so
cute? Try them on. – Yeah. – And I keep my tights, right? – Yeah. Right. Yeah, that’s a nice fullness. Okay, I kind of like
this for a finale, but it could really be either. So, let me take your picture.
(camera shutter clicks) Cute. Okay. And I’m
not doing any jewelry for the finale,
because the last time I did this show and I tried
putting necklaces on people; they went flying
all over the stage. Because everyone’s dancing,
and every time you do this, they get caught, and
it’s just a hot mess. You might have to kinda
hold that thing down when you get your
foot in there, but… How does that feel? Does it keep it in
there a little bit? – Yeah, I think
these would help. (hallway echoes muffle
voices and laughter) – Welcome to the
girl’s dressing room. Brenda has two, all the
counsel girls have two. They have a normal run
of Corny Collins Show and then they have
the Hair Finale. This extra piece is
for the mic pack. In case you were to put
the microphone pack here, and then bring the
microphone piece down in front of their head. Otherwise, you can
run it down the back, put it on the side, whatever. But it has a little extra pouch
you can put the mic pack in. Flip it over, pin it in. She takes the high ground,
and I take the low. For me, it is
extremely imperative that I will rough
style on a block, and then I need to
see it on the person. Now this is where I
talk to the actress and say, “Help me
find your Brenda.” Let’s find her. And we need to know
how much bounce. In this sixties
era, there wasn’t a whole whole lot of bounce. And we will refine it even more. Before I set her in
stone, as I call it, I need to see her dance
around in a rehearsal, so I know what adjustments
need to me made. – So this will be in Act I. The other one will
be the Act II one for “I Know Where I’ve Been”. – [Actress] You don’t
just…? (indiscernibly quiet) – No. Oh no. – [Carin] And definitely
jewelry with this one. – [Martie] Is this your
last thing you have? – Yep. – [Martie] Okay. Get into
rehearsal clothes and go quick. – Now? – Yes. (group bursts into laughter) – So I’m able to block the show, meaning get it on its
feet rather quickly. But then that leaves
me a lot of time to play with it, to adjust. To say, “You know,
that’s not working. I need to do something else.” Many times, many
times, I will wake up in the middle of
the night, and go, “Oh no, no, no, that scene’s
not right. I gotta redo it.” Okay here’s my concern,
who takes those off? And I need Nate on stage. Okay, put it back exactly
where they were please. – Yeah, and that
was our new dance of the week, The
Stricken Chicken. We’ll be right back. (lively upbeat piano riff) – [Female Crew Member]
And, we’re off. – [Martie] And so I think
about how I want it to look, I think about the
choreography aspects of it, the directing aspects of
it. I do a lotta research to make sure I understand
all the aspects because I teach
musical theater history and I know a lot about the
background of Hairspray. I was able to locate
a lotta resources, lot of original
photos, or film clips from the original Broadway. So I really understand
what the originators of Hairspray wanted to do. (singing and orchestra music
drown out conversation) – Bret our propmaster
needs somebody, not him, to make the signs
for the protest. Otherwise, they will all
be in his handwriting. So we need different
handwriting. If anybody
volunteers…you volunteer? No, you cannot do it. (laughs) You can volunteer, you
can volunteer. Okay. (markers squeal and squeak) – When I’m directing
I have it in my head. I haven’t necessarily written
down every single move that every single actor
is making in a scene. (indiscernible
high-pitched banter) It’s really, is it
appropriate for the character to do what they’re doing? To be where they are on stage? Are you blocking anybody? Is it gonna work
with the costumes? What side of the stage do
they have to be on to exit? To get back on to
the next thing? What works best
for the character? (musical solo with
piano accompaniment) – [Martie] Ready, and go! ♪ Hey mama welcome
to the sixties ♪ The choreography is the
easiest part for me. I choreograph months in advance, I write it all out,
I see it in my head. I can see the entire
show in my head, way before I ever even audition. Okay, I need it
from Seaweed’s line, “Hey, hey, hey, check
her out everybody.” I’ve been choreographing
a long time, so a lot of it is experience. My first choreography credit
was when I was in sixth grade. So, I’ve been making up
dances for a long time. (upbeat singing
accompanied by piano) (swinging jazz-like sax music) ♪ Oh oh oh look at my hair ♪ ♪ What “do” can compare
with mine today ♪ ♪ Oh oh oh I’ve got my
hairspray and radio ♪ ♪ I’m ready to go ♪ ♪ The rats on the street ♪ ♪ All dance around my feet ♪ ♪ They seem to say ♪ ♪ Tracy it’s up to you ♪ ♪ So oh oh don’t hold me back ♪ ♪ Cause today all my
dreams will come true ♪ ♪ Good morning Baltimore ♪ ♪ There’s the flasher
who lives next door ♪ ♪ There’s the bum on
his bar room stool ♪ ♪ They wish me luck
on my way to school ♪ ♪ Good morning Baltimore ♪ ♪ And someday when I
take to the floor ♪ ♪ The world’s gonna
wake up and see ♪ – [Martie] Theater is important
for a number of reasons. In terms of a live
experience, a live experience is something that is
rarer than it used to be. And so for a lot
of our audiences, especially our
students, in many cases, this is their first time
seeing anything live. And they do not have the
opportunity to be filming it, they do not have the
opportunity to be doing selfies. They have to experience
what they’re seeing. There’s no barrier between
the actor and the audience. The connection is so important. And for some students, this is
their mode of communication. To be able to sing,
or dance, or act, or play an instrument,
or be an artist. They have to have that outlet. That is what’s natural for them. And without live theater,
that would be an avenue they would not be able
to grow and change. There’s nothing like it. And that’s really it;
there is nothing like it. (“You Can’t Stop The Beat”) ♪ Yes you can ♪ ♪ No I can’t ♪ ♪ Yes you can ♪ ♪ You can’t stop the beat ♪ ♪ Ever since we
first saw the sun ♪ ♪ It seems Vantussle
girls are always ♪ ♪ tryin’ please someone ♪ ♪ ♪ So we’re gonna
shake and shimmy it ♪ ♪ And just have some fun today ♪ ♪ You cant stop the
motion of the ocean ♪ ♪ Or the rain from above ♪ ♪ You can try to stop the
paradise we’re dreamin’ of ♪ ♪ But you cannot stop the
rhythm of two hearts ♪ ♪ In love to stay ♪ ♪ You cant stop the beat ♪ ♪ You cant stop the beat ♪ ♪ You cant stop the beat ♪ (crowd erupts with
cheers and applause) ♪ What gives a girl
power and punch ♪ ♪ Is it charm is it poise ♪ ♪ No it’s hairspray ♪ ♪ What gets a gal
asked out to lunch ♪ ♪ Is it brains is it dough ♪ ♪ No it’s hairspray ♪ ♪ If you take a ride with
no can at your side ♪ ♪ Then your flip will be gone ♪ ♪ With the wind ♪ ♪ But if you spray
it and lock it ♪ ♪ You can take off in a rocket ♪ ♪ And in outer space ♪ ♪ Each hair will be in place ♪ ♪ Why take a chance when
you get up and dance ♪ ♪ If you twist I insist ♪ ♪ You use hairspray ♪ ♪ And tell your mother ♪ ♪ Her head she should smother ♪ ♪ With ultra clutch faithfully ♪ ♪ So if you’re a redhead
a blonde or brunette ♪ ♪ Just take my advice ♪ ♪ And you might just get ♪ ♪ The only thing
better than hairspray ♪ ♪ That’s me ♪ ♪ Forget the milkman ♪ ♪ The only thing
better than hairspray ♪ ♪ That’s me ♪ ♪ Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ♪ ♪ Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ♪ ♪ What makes a man ♪ ♪ Reach out and touch ♪ ♪ Ultra clutch ♪ ♪ So if you’re a redhead
a blonde or brunette ♪ ♪ Just take my advice ♪ ♪ And you might just get ♪ ♪ The only thing
better than hairspray ♪ ♪ That’s me ♪ ♪ Ska doo dle e ya ♪ ♪ Doo dle e ya do wah ♪ ♪ He’s Corny Collins ♪ ♪ The only thing
better than hairspray ♪ ♪ Hairspray wow ♪ ♪ That’s me ♪ ♪ Ska doo dle e ya ♪ ♪ Doo dle e ya do wah ♪ ♪ Hey baby you look like
you could use a stiff one ♪ – [Female Crew Member]
And, we’re off.

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