'Hairspray' attracts large Valdosta Middle School cast

Valdosta Middle School Players stages a massive cast to present its spring musical, ‘Hairspray,’ playing this week.

Dean Poling | The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Seems a cast of thousands fills the stage as the Valdosta Middle School “Hairspray” cast sings and dances to the song “Welcome to the ’60s.”

Toni Jarvis, Valdosta Middle School Players director, coordinates these students in the choreography they have practiced at school to translate into the first day of rehearsal at Valdosta High School Performing Arts Center.

She gives orders like a general turning the mass of an army. A dancing, singing army, but an army nonetheless.

“Hairspray” is the musical story of a young girl named

Tracy Turnblad who struggles

to change the racial make-up

of a Baltimore television dance show in the civil rights era. The show is filled with fun songs

and a rebellious spirit. It's the story of outsiders becoming

the ones to instigate change.

Traditionally, “Hairspray” is also a show where a man plays full-figured Edna Turnblad, Tracy’s mother. The tradition has held through two movies, Broadway productions, even local productions such as Peach State Summer Theatre's outing several years ago, and Little Actors Theatre in recent weeks.

VMS Players is not following this tradition, Jarvis said. The play company recommends against a male playing Edna in middle school productions to protect young actors from bullying by fellow students. As a long-time middle school teacher, Jarvis opted to heed this warning.

She is dedicated to the show's message and its sense of humor.

Given the number of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders participating in the VMS spring musical, Jarvis also remains dedicated to including as many youngsters as possible.

 THE CAST: Mary Leigh Moseley, JaLen Smith, Dominque Goins, Raquel Goddard, Ivy Tarver, Alyssa Stein, Tripp Fleming, Alijah Patterson, Raven Ford, Khaniah Johnson, Christen Powell, Travis Cross-Manhart, Rachel Carter, Carl Bryant, Zoë Martin, Callie Belflower, Emma Jack, Will Correll, Michale Lawrence, Fola Asebiomo, Jade Sipplin, Kathryn Plumb, Billy Hampton, Reece Whiddon, Abbi Long, Caitlin Herring, Kenzie Eikehberry, Nathalee Simoneau, Kira Mitchell, Morgan Wynn, Katelyn Gann, Samaria Floyd, Elliott Lane, Devin Burke, Alex Courtenay, Katie Flythe, Kylie Lewis, Kennedy Gillespie, Jade Conway, Brenya Lockhart, Ke’ashia Tucker, Idani Hardin, Anaya Coleman, Quanta Edgecomb, Jade Elliot, Maya Conway, Sophia Noll, Victoria Bergeson, Mackenzie Blevins, Mary Leigh, Ranajhai Pettiford, Mckenzie Dye, Sarah Burton, Joanna Cooper, Iolani Hardin, Tatiyana Hill, KyBreanna Jefferson, Savannah Keene, Morgan Lane, Marissa Lasher, Jodeci Mitchell, Alexis Moody, Jackson Page, David Spikes, Amairi Bell, Angel Arzola, Rhajai Williams, Cameron Johnson, Dalphne Davis, Lindsay Henshaw, Emma Herring, Ronnekia Leggett, Makenzie Robinson, Keith Sayre, Cole Sellars, Akeiylah Spencer, Rashida Thomas, Zion Watson, Nadia Yankovsky, Jeneen Awad, Bryce Back, Ileyna Brooks, Jamya Casey, Ladaysha Clemons, Maya Conway, Lazaria Fisher, Danailia Folsom, Makayla Glover, Zy’kya Lane, Adison Lieupo, Justin Miller, Jada Nickell, Ashunna Russ, Alicia Thomas, Alexandria Carter, Sarah Harrison, Haleigh Hennly, J’rni Kirkley, Hannah McAlpin, Elijah Norwood, Ishika Patel, Cara Sellars, Tedarrium Deas.

DIRECTION, PRODUCTION: Toni Jarvis, director; Kaylee McCutchan, student director; Kailee Baskin & Kaliece Bush, technical directors; Shelby Doss, sound; Colton Baldwin, light board; Keshuna Baker & Abbey Whittington, spots; Abbie Baskin, props; Katie Lancaster, publicity; Nyanda Walker-Potts, set lead; Jordyn Austin, set design; Bhoomy Patel, Jodeci Mitchell, Lizzie Eikenberry, Hannah McAlpin, Shelby Knowles, Brianne Peacock, stage crew; Katherine Littlejohn, fly lines, curtains.

Showtime: Valdosta Middle School Players presents “Hairspray.”

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday. Where: Valdosta High School Performing Arts Center, 3101 N. Forrest St. NOTE: VMS will also present two shows for

elementary school students Wednesday.

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