Director discusses theater department’s upcoming performance
Last week staff writer Kameron Schmid interviewed Sam Williams, the director of ARC’s upcoming fall musical, “Hairspray.” Williams has been teaching at ARC for 15 years and has directed other musicals: “Fiddler On The Roof,” “Godspell,” and “Footloose.” The play opens on Oct 11.
What led into your decision to pick this musical?
“I like the music, the storyline is great, and I like things that have history as well. History has got good music, music that’s changing. It’s got things about integration, so it’s got controversial stuff in there as well. And it’s also loaded with great characters. I was looking for a chance to give our students opportunities. This play has 45 people in it.”
How do you personally feel about the cultural commentary in the musical’s storyline?
“John Waters, [the playwright] has so many different aspects of that in here. Yes he does have it for white and black, he does have it for heavyset people and skinny people. But he also has a section in here about special education. He really gets a lot of stuff in here and makes you ask a lot of questions.”
How well do you feel the subject matter translates to today, considering the setting is early 1960s?
“I think there’s a song that’s in the film that sums it up well, I wish it was in the play. It’s called ‘We’ve Come So Far, We’ve Got So Far To Go.’ You can say that about so many aspects of our lives. How we treat people who are in wheelchairs…you can say that about equality in a lot of different ways. And the great things is that we’re in a country where we have the opportunity to voice that. And there’s so many wonderful artists who voice it in such away that we can kind of echo it.”
Which cast members can we expect to stand out?
“It’s very much an ensemble piece. And we have so many big, beautiful characters in this, that they’re all gonna shine, and I don’t see one outshining another. Tracy (played by Anna Russell) is in more scenes, so she has to carry a lot of responsibility, but I think everybody’s shining like crazy.”
How do you feel about your cast coming into the final weeks of rehearsal?
“I’m very very confident. We started rehearsing a long time ago, in July for three weeks, and then again two weeks before school started. There are so many things to overcome, you have to overcome health problems, injury, people’s schedules. Even though we’re dealing with all those things, this cast is working their buns off. I don’t know if I’ve been around a more hard-working cast, especially one this large. Because of their hard work, and the incredible support that I really have. The designers are amazing, my daughter is helping me choreograph, Tracy is doing a great job on the voices.”