Thursday, March 14, 2013

Letter to "Hairspray" Cast and Crew

... From the "Hairspray" Composer and Lyricist

Just prior to dress rehearsal on Thursday evening, the cast and crew of “Hairspray” were surprised with a very special letter received by their producing director John Middleton-Cox, one that was bursting with all the enthusiasm and joy that this show represents. We are so happy to share the words of the composer and lyricist of “Hairspray,” Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. The words speak for themselves!

Dear Cast & Crew of the Burlington High School production of "HAIRSPRAY",

Scott & I were very excited to hear about the huge production of "HAIRSPRAY" you are all currently a part of.

"HAIRSPRAY" was a joyous event in our lives.  From the moment we started writing the songs to the rehearsals on 42nd St., from the Opening Night on Broadway to The Tony Awards right up to the making of the movie musical and beyond, it really has been one long dream come true for us, and we hope that your experience putting on the show brings you as much joy as we have gotten over the years.

Our only request is you share that joy!  There is no holding back allowed when putting on "HAIRSPRAY".  One has to sing every word with all the emotion you can bring to it, dance like your life depended on it, and make sure that every audience member leaves the theatre a little happier than they were when they came in, and hopefully a little more willing to accept all types of people, regardless of what they look like.  And maybe to even search out people who are different than themselves.  And dance!

Scott & I were both lucky enough to go back to our high-schools to see productions of "HAIRSPRAY".  Oprah Winfrey has never had such a "full circle" moment!  Please let that show you, very clearly, that two guys like us who loved doing musicals when we were in high-school (just like you!) worked very hard and got to have every dream come true.

Please, have fun and break a leg.  Welcome to the family of "HAIRSPRAY"!

xo Marc & Scott



Monday, March 11, 2013

Burlington's 50 Years of Musicals!


Burlington's 50 Years of Musicals!
(article written by Vanessa Ovian, Publicity Coordinator for "Hairspray")
Burlington High School is proud to announce that it is celebrating 50 years of musicals with the performance of the Tony Award-winning musical “Hairspray,” which will take place March 15, 16, 22, 23 and 24 in the Fogelberg Performing Arts Center.

The story of an effervescent plump teen who takes on social issues in early 1960’s-era Baltimore, “Hairspray” moves to the beat of a score filled with be-bopping songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. It’s oddly coincidental that this musical was chosen for this year’s production--imagine a musical that takes place in the very same era as the students who participated in Burlington’s very first musical!

And who would have guessed back in 1963 with the performance of Rogers and Hammerstein’s classic, “Oklahoma,” that it was the beginning of a half-century love affair between the town and its talented high school students.

When the curtains rose on the opening night of “Oklahoma,” Burlington High School was located in what now houses the Marshall Simonds Middle School. The school auditorium was considerably smaller than the current performance space in the 800-seat Fogelberg Performing Arts Center.

Ten years later in the spring of 1973, the high school moved to a new facility on Cambridge Street where it remains to this day. Fogelberg Auditorium (recently renamed Fogelberg Performing Arts Center) became home to the next forty years of pure enjoyment for not only cast and crew members but tens of thousands of family and friends.

The first years in the new theatre were challenging compared to today’s standards. There was almost no stage lighting, no carpeting for acoustical purposes and no sound amplification. The space, however, was a director’s dream as it was equipped with deep wings, a green room, fly space, and enough seats for the entire student body.

As time and musicals marched on so, too, did technology. Today’s performances are enhanced by wireless microphones, two-way radios for stage management, multi-dimensional lighting and special effects projections. What was once publicized by hand-drawn posters and photos in the local papers, is now also handled by a Burlington Theatre website, social media, local cable television, electronic news delivery and bulletin boards, and broadcast emails. Burlington casts now hover in the 90-100 student range and with the creation of the high school Stage Crew, over 25 students man lights, sound, props and sets, and professionals design and construct everything from sets to costumes to lighting.

Through the magic of theatre Burlington audiences have been transported to locales far and near. They have travelled to a rival ballpark in New York where they’ve chanted about those “Damn Yankees,” to Austria where they heard that the hills were alive with “The Sound of Music,” and to Rome where they found out that “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum! They have delightfully been seated atop a mattress, skipped along a yellow brick road and witnessed tragedy and redemption during a student uprising in 19th century Paris.

In celebration of the golden anniversary of BHS musicals, a Facebook group for its alumni was created. The group took off like wildfire. Now nearing the 300 member mark, former students post memories, photos, programs and pictures. The enthusiasm is contagious as former cast and crew members reminisce about their days on stage.

As a result of this outpouring of memories, “Hairspray’s” producing-director John Middleton-Cox realized that a very special reunion would honor the occasion and the “50 Years of BHS Musicals Reunion and Reception” was conceived. Following the Friday, March 22 performance of “Hairspray,” former cast and crew members will gather with a number of their directors at the high school to reminisce and celebrate the influence that fifty years of Burlington High School musicals have had on their lives. Among those in attendance will be former directors Bob Tyler, Mike Barczak, Nancy Ferretti and Sue LaVoie.

The success of the past fifty years has also recently piqued the interest of a new, younger generation of musical theatre actors. To fill a void where no program existed, Middleton-Cox and the Burlington Public Schools developed the Burlington Educational Summer Theatre (BEST). A thriving summer musical theatre program entering its fourth year, BEST operates on two levels, offering younger students a chance to explore the performing arts and older students the opportunity to participate in a complete musical production culminating in performances in the Fogelberg Performing Arts Center.

These 50 years of musicals at Burlington High School have been a testament to the dedication and passion that have been shared by generations of all who have stepped onto the BHS stage. The greatest validation of the program is that the alumni truly cherish the life-long and sometimes life-changing memories of their years at Burlington High School.

“Hairspray,” a family-friendly production, will be performed on March 15, 16, 22 and 23 at 7:30 pm and March 24 at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $10 for students/senior citizens and $15 for adults and can be purchased online at or by phone at 781-A-FUN-TIC. The Fogelberg Performing Arts Center is a handicapped accessible venue.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hairspray Poster Designer Dominic Calicchio

(Used by permission:  written by Vanessa Ovian)
Artistic vision is a gift. For senior Dominic Calicchio that gift has given him the opportunity to design the artwork chosen to represent this year’s high school production of “Hairspray.”

Art has always been an interest and part of Calicchio’s life, beginning when he was a young age with an interest in drawing. Upon entering Burlington High School, his talent led him to design and ceramics, and in his senior year he became a member of the Digital Publishing Team.

The Team, a class of 15 talented digital arts students who create designs for the school and the Burlington community, is taught by art faculty member Keith Mistler whose background is in photography and graphic arts.

In January, the Digital Publishing Team students were given the assignment to create the graphic design that would be used in all the print work and publicity for this year’s musical. 

Reminded of the significance of the assignment, the students were asked to create a design that would represent everything about the show. To establish a starting point for their work, producing director John Middleton-Cox visited the Digital Publishing team and provided input regarding specific guidelines which included common themes in the play, text and size requirements.

The chosen work would appear on all signage, on the playbill and on apparel that the cast and crew members would sport. It would also take a prominent position joining other theatrical posters that are now on permanent display outside the Fogelberg Performing Arts Center.  

 The “Hairspray” assignment took approximately two weeks of class time during which Mistler and his Team watched the movie, researched the time period and brainstormed ideas before starting to sketch on paper. They went to work on their designs and as in all class assignments, it was graded.

Calicchio created his rough design in about a week, was critiqued and after about three to four weeks of hard work was chosen as the “Hairspray” graphic artist.

 “At the beginning of the year I had never worked with any computer art programs and now I’ve been selected with such a great honor,” comments Calicchio. “I took everything in, especially the characters and the themes, and used all of my knowledge to put into my design.”

 His creative process goes back to that artistic vision and Calicchio explains it simply. “In my head I can see exactly what I want to create for my Digital Publishing projects and for this project I was able to make it happen!”

 Mistler is all praise for his student’s talent. “Dom is a talented and hardworking student. His commitment to the arts is apparent by his innovative and unique designs and his contributions and ideas to the digital publishing class are highly valued.”

Dominic Calicchio isn’t exactly sure what the future holds. Following graduation he plans to enter a college program in criminal justice but spends a lot of time thinking about the arts and if they could be his future.

“I’m an eighteen year old kid who isn’t quite sure what I want to do with my life, so anything can happen.” He continues, “I’m just happy my work is appreciated and I hope it’s exactly what the show is looking for.”

Performances of “Hairspray” will take place on March 15, 16, 22 and 23 at 7:30 pm and March 24 at 2:00 pm in the Fogelberg Performing Arts Center, a handicapped accessible facility, located at 123 Cambridge Street, Burlington, Massachusetts. Tickets are available online at or by phone at 781-A-FUN-TIC.