Dreams do come true – just ask Emma Forgeron.
She will play the lead – Tracy Turnblad – in the upcoming Music of the Night (MOTN) production of Hairspray.
“I have wanted to be her since I was a child,” the Prince George, B.C. native said.
Prior to a recent rehearsal at St. F.X.’s Immaculata Auditorium, the first-year political science reflected on her MOTN experience.
“I have done a lot of theatre, but this has been just incredible,” Forgeron said.
After starting her post-secondary studies in the renowned theatre program at Sheridan College, she decided to pursue a political science degree, which brought her to St. F.X.
“I had decided to put theatre in my back pocket, at least for a year, when I came here, but then I saw the poster,” Forgeron said.
Agreeing there is an element of fate involved, she added there was no way she could pass up an opportunity to play Tracy, so she auditioned.
“Everyone has made it so easy for me to do my thing,” Forgeron noted.
Nevertheless, there was some nervousness about performing in a new space.
“But everyone has been so welcoming, which has been great,” Forgeron said.
For Mel Agravante, who plays Seaweed, it is his second MOTN experience, but his first time on the stage. For the 2018 production of Oliver, the third-year St. F.X. jazz studies’ student was part of the sound crew.
“It is going great – I love it so much,” the Winnipeg native said.
Agravante noted playing the “more extraverted” character has helped him come out of his shell.
“I am really glad that I ended up doing this,” he said.
The widely popular Hairspray, which will be presented through a special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI), celebrates diversity in creating an important narrative around body image and racial equality.
Forgeron and Agravante were amongst the more than 100 people who auditioned for the production last September.
“We have so much talent,” veteran musical director Brent Bannerman said.
To illustrate the depth of that ability, he noted The Dynamites – a trio in the stage show and movie – will be a nine-person group for the MOTN production.
“It is going to provide a bigger, fuller sound,” he said.
Bannerman, who has been part of every production since MOTN launched in 1997, said “we couldn’t cast our principals any better,” when it comes to Hairspray.
In keeping with the tradition of having participants of all ages, this year’s production, which boasts a cast and crew 100 or more strong, includes five students from Antigonish Education Centre.
“We have a lot of first-timers,” Bannerman noted.
There are also junior and high school, along with St. F.X. students; not to mention many members of the broader community.
“Everyone is working tremendously hard,” Bannerman said, when asked about the commitment people have made to the production.
Shows for Hairspray will be staged during early February in Antigonish, Guysborough and Port Hawkesbury.
The annual MOTN production is a fundraiser for the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School band program.
Fri., Feb. 1: opening night, 7 p.m., St. F.X. Immaculata Auditorium
Sat., Feb. 2: 2 p.m. (matinee) and 7 p.m., St. F.X. Immaculata Auditorium
Sun., Feb. 3: 2 p.m. (matinee)
Fri., Feb. 8: SAERC performance centre in Port Hawkesbury, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 9: Chedabucto Place Performance Centre in Guysborough, 7;30 p.m.;
Fri., Feb. 15: St. F.X. Immaculata Auditorium, 7 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 16: 2 p.m. (matinee) and 7 p.m., St. F.X. Immaculata Auditorium
Sun., Feb. 17: 2 p.m. (matinee), St. F.X. Immaculata Auditorium
Editor's note: In our print and earlier online version, showtime for the Port Hawkesbury and Guysborough performances were listed for 7 p.m. They will get underway at 7:30 p.m.