Is History Something to Sing About?

This past week was the premier of the live re-creation of “Hairspray” on TV. The movie revolves around a mother, daughter pair that go through their typical ups and downs during the ‘60s. In addition, it revolves around a TV show that stars students, primarily white except for one day a month which is titled Negro day. The movie tackles the ‘60s and the difficulties between whites and blacks and the acceptance of those of color as being apart of society just as much as white individuals. I have seen the movie hundreds of times, and have memorized every song; … Read more

The Dangers of Hairspray

So, as some of you may or may not know, I tend to dabble in the world of theatre here at Muhlenberg College. My dabbling in this world has led me to a lot of wonderful friends, valuable learning experiences, and, really, just a lot of great times. Of late, however, it has provided me with an interesting window into the world of contemporary racism.

Let’s start with an honest fact: the world of theatre has been littered with racism since the dawn of its existence. From the concept of “minstrel shows” to the prevalence white performers performing in black face the old world of theatre has not been particularly friendly to non-white members of society. Now, of course, we have moved into an age where, overt, old-fashioned racism is no longer acceptable. This rule, to an extant, has applied to the world of musical theatre. In fact, many contemporary works of theatre, even musical theatre, have focused on racial issues and the problems they have caused within society. This summer, Muhlenberg College’s Summer Music Theatre program (MSMT for short), is putting on one of those productions, Shaiman, Wittman, O’Donnel, and Meehan’s Hairspray.

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