The musical is being staged in Augusta on Monday at Bell Auditorium as part of the Broadway in Augusta series. Colleen Kazemek, who plays Velma, a scheming mother trying to keep heroine Tracy Turnblad off a local televised dance party, said the magic of Hairspray is its ability to straddle the line between innocuous and thoughtful.
"There are people that don't always see that," she said during a recent telephone interview. "But it is an education. There are serious messages. I mean even my character, my character and her daughter, give in to it. We're the last to give in, but we do." The story, set in 1960s Baltimore, addresses issues of race, self-image and generational change. Still, Kazemek said the characters are endearing enough and the music is infectious enough to keep proceedings from seeming too medicinal.
Because Hairspray has succeeded as both a classic narrative film, a movie musical and a stage musical, there is a lot of room for character interpretation. Kazemek said some actresses choose to make Velma much more shrewish than she does. Her version is both misunderstood and unable to understand the changing world around her.
"I do like to shy away from the word villain," she said. "She is not mean-spirited. She's really more of a comedic character than a classic evil antagonist."