hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

Arts & Entertainment

January 11, 2012

Mom, children act in popular play 'Hairspray'

A Haverhill family is spending some quality family time together in the spotlight.

The Elwells are among 86 Merrimack Valley actors taking part in the Acting Out theater group's production of "Hairspray."

Haverhill students Nick, 17, and Lauren, 14, Elwell will take to the stage next month with their mother, Stacy.

"It's pretty cool we're doing this as a family," Nick said. "I've never done it before."

Stacy said she and her husband, Greg, were active as performers for years before settling down and raising a family.

At the encouragement of her children, she's returned to the stage.

"I'm having a ball watching the kids go through it," she said. "It's amazing to do something like this with your kids."

The Elwells have been fans of "Hairspray" since the debut of its movie adaptation starring John Travolta in 2007. The family even owns a karaoke soundtrack, which they sing and dance to.

When they heard about Acting Out's open rehearsals for "Hairspray," the Elwell children couldn't wait to take part.

Lauren said she was unsure of trying out until the day of the auditions, when the allure of the stage and the comfort of having family close by brought out her inner actress.

"Once I saw what they were doing, I had to try it," she said. "We're really close. Being up on stage is second nature."

"Hairspray" is an award-winning Broadway musical that first opened in 2002, It has delighted audiences worldwide over the past decade. The play follows pudgy teen Tracy Turnblad, a dance star who supports integration at the height of the civil rights movement.

The play, with its mix of music and morals, has been performed more than 4,000 times in professional productions.

Show director Linda Schoonmaker said the audience should expect a show rivaling anything on Broadway.

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