October 12, 2011 | 9:30am
We don't have a problem with hair-hoppers, unless of course they're sitting in front of us during the Actors' Playhouse production of Hairspray, the musical, at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables.
Set in 1962 Baltimore during the height of the segregation/integration conflicts, Hairspray tells the story of racism through the eyes of a dancing, cake-loving teenage girl, Tracy Turnblad.
Played by University of Miami grad and current NYC-dwelling actress Joline Mujica, Turnblad wins a spot on The Corny Collins Show -- a local TV dance program -- and quickly becomes a teen icon. However, she's vexed that the hit show refuses to integrate. Having been subjected to loads of discrimination throughout her pudgy young life (she's initially scoffed at on the dance shows because of her plus-size thighs), the moon-faced teen decides to stand up to prejudice and fight for an interracial dance floor.
In the Actors' Playhouse rendition, creative director David Arisco has bravely taken on the jobs of both directing the show and playing Tracy Turnblad's heavyset mom, Edna. Originally played by drag queen extraordinaire Divine
in 1988 and John Travolta in the 2007
adaptation, the role is incredibly physically demanding, Arisco says.
"I'm the only guy I know who has to lose weight to play a fat woman," Arisco says. "It's like, wait, what's wrong with this picture? But I really did. To get my stage legs back, and my choreography and stamina, I had to go through a whole training session this summer."
As epic as Divine was as the imposing mama in John Waters's cult classic, it seems Arisco will have little trouble filling Edna's triple-D, cone-shaped bra cups.
"Let me tell you, when they took my bra out that they built, the whole office to the left says, 'Why are they putting such a big bra on you?' And then, when I put it on, it's completely proportionate. It looks like it could go around a kiosk in the center of a square somewhere, but it goes on me and it looks just right."
Hairspray runs today through November 13, Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $15 to $50. Visit actorsplayhouse.org or call 305-442-9293.