Preparations are well under way for Hairspray - the big Balor summer musical – and there’s a distinctive West End feel to rehearsals, with one current star and one (hopefully) future star involved.
Ballybofey actor Dennis Grindle, who played Jimmy in the West End production of The Commitments, is home for a few weeks and he’s been helping out as a vocal and acting coach. Also part of the show (as choreographer and also playing the part of Edna) is Michael Duffy who has just completed his first year at Urdang Academy, which is basically a West End actor factory – remember that ‘80’s TV series, "Fame"? Yeah, well, that’s basically Urdang, except it’s in Islington instead of New York.
Hairspray tells the story of teenager Tracy Turnblad (played in this production by Eimear Friel) who, against the objections of her mother, Edna, wins a role on local TV dance programme, The Corny Collins Show, and uses her newfound celebrity status to end the show's policy of discrimination.
Its combination of a foot-tapping 1960’s dance and rhythm and blues soundtrack and powerful social message has made Hairspray one of the most popular musicals of recent times -its original Broadway run scooped eight Tony awards and ran for more than 2,500 performances.
This Balor production has a lot to live up to. It comes from the same creative team behind last year's summer smash hit Grease, which saw its originally scheduled five-night run become a 10-night run. The longer run was driven by incredible demand, which saw every show a sellout and there were still lengthy waiting lists of people who couldn’t get tickets. No pressure so.
Hairspray runs from Tuesday, August 8th, to Saturday, August 12th, at The Balor, Ballybofey at 8pm nightly. Tickets are priced at €12, €10 concession and 4 for €40. They’re already starting to sell, and going from the success of Grease last year, you’d be well advised to book early. Tickets can be booked from the Balor box office on 074 9131840 or online at www.balorartscentre.com