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Hairspray’ to cure winter blues onstage at Shedd Theatre

Nikki Nathan (Amber Von Tussle), Logan Eva Rathmann (Tracy Turnblad) and Alexa Joy Rybinski (Penny Pingleton) star in ‘Hairspray,' a production of the SRO Theatre Company in association with CATCO.

Nothing can stop the beat for some Ohio State students and graduates.
SRO Theatre Company and The Contemporary American Theatre Company, CATCO, have joined forces to put on a production of “Hairspray,” starring several OSU students and graduates. The show is scheduled to open at 8 p.m. Friday at the Shedd Theatre in the Columbus Performing Arts Center.
“Hairspray” is a musical that follows teenager Tracy Turnblad in 1960s Baltimore as she tries to racially integrate a local television program called “The Corny Collins Show.”
“It’s a highly entertaining show, but it does have some real-world issues that it covers,” said Joe Bishara, the show’s director.  
Some of the show’s OSU ties lie with Logan Eva Rathmann, a first-year in pre-business who stars as Tracy Turnblad, and Mia Widjaja, a third-year in international studies who plays Kamilah, a dancer known as a Dynamite girl, in the production.
Rathmann and Widjaja decided to get involved in “Hairspray” after participating in the OSU Department of Theatre’s production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” Fall Semester.
“I’ve always done musicals, ever since I was young,” Widjaja said. But she said that until last semester, she had not done one since high school.
Rathmann said that while doing “Edwin Drood,” she started getting “links to other shows to audition for and what’s going on around the area,” and that is how she found out about “Hairspray.”  
Although both students said the time commitment was a challenge, they said they are excited to put on the show.
“Once the performance rolls around, that’s when I start to enjoy it,” Widjaja said.
Rathmann agreed.
“I’m just excited for people to see it,” she said. “It’s a show that you really take a good message from after leaving it.”
Bishara said the show will brighten people’s winter blues.
“I think it’s kind of a catch-all for what I call the ‘winter doldrums.’ It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you tap your feet, it’ll make you think,” Bishara said.
Bishara, who is also the associate producing director at CATCO, said CATCO manages the Columbus Performing Arts Center, which is where SRO Theatre Company produces all of its shows.  
The two organizations began collaborating on what Bishara describes as “inter-generational productions” because Bishara and Nancy Nocks, the executive and artistic director of SRO Theatre Company, had worked together previously. Last year, CATCO and SRO worked together on a production of “Annie.”
“We said, ‘Well, (‘Annie’) went so well, let’s give it another whirl,’ and that’s where ‘Hairspray’ came from,” Bishara said. “One of the things we (CATCO) pride ourselves upon is collaborating with smaller arts organizations to create something better for the benefit of the community. So it’s a win-win.”
Although Bishara said planning for “Hairspray” started about 10 months ago, after “Annie” closed, rehearsals began at the end of January.
“There’s really only a four-week rehearsal process for the show,” he said.
While most people would view this as a major disadvantage, Bishara doesn’t see it that way.
“When you have less time, you have to be more efficient with your time, and subsequently, people have to concentrate,” he said. “So I actually think that it’s a benefit, and then the show actually stays fresh. It doesn’t grow stagnant. Fear is a tremendous motivator – that’s usually how I take a look at it.”
Additional performances are scheduled this weekend for Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Shows are also scheduled for March 1-3 and March 8-10.
Tickets are $10 for students, $20 for adults, $17 for seniors and $15 for SRO members and can be purchased from SRO’s website. The Shedd Theatre is located at 549 Franklin Ave.

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