Ode to hairspray

Two theater companies present Hairspray on Valley stages this summer

Like most little girls, I spent lots of time imitating my mom. I’d try on her pumps and pearls — and sneak dabs of her blush or lipstick. Even wave a can of aerosol hairspray back and forth over my head until my hair looked like a helmet.

Hairspray movies were released in 1988 and 2007

I recall those moments, and growing up during the ’60s, each time I see the musical “Hairspray.” My mom never saw the show, but she would have loved it. It’s an anthem to teen girls who refuse to accept the status quo or let others determine their worth.

And it’s being performed this summer by two Valley theater groups — Desert Stages Theatre in Scottsdale and Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix. I love seeing the same work performed by different groups because it’s fun to compare their cast, set and costume choices.

No two productions are ever the same, and seeing multiple versions of a single show gives kids experience in making comparisons, plus analyzing similarities and differences — skills they’ll need for reading, writing, history, math, science and more.

The original cast recording features upbeat songs perfect for retro dance parties

The Desert Stages Theatre production, which runs through Aug 7, will be presented at their Scottsdale venue — which is near Scottsdale Fashion Square. The Valley Youth Theatre production runs Aug 12-28 at the Herberger Theater Center, near Arizona Center, in downtown Phoenix.

Because both are close to shopping and plenty of restaurants, you can take in a show and enjoy other attractions in the area. Still, there’s a downside. Neither is within easy walking distance of a place that’ll sell you hairspray.

For summer birthday parties or back-to-school get togethers, “Hairspray” makes a fun theme. Treat your child and some friends to one of the live productions of “Hairspray,” then get one or both “Hairspray” films for sleepover viewing.

Before there was Harry Potter, there was Hairspray

Find some pictures of Audrey Hepburn or other folks with big hair, and challenge party-goers to see how high their locks will go with a little teasing and hairspray. Then take photos of the results (promising never to post them online).

Encourage guests to dress in “Hairspray” era clothing and accessories. Think bobby socks, headbands and cardigan sweaters. Or take them to a thrift store to see who can find the most outrageous “Hairspray” look.

Let them dance to the “Hairspray” soundtrack or cast recording, eat foods that might have been served in 1962, or play board games from that era. Remind them that Tracy Turnblad never tweeted, and that Mrs. Von Tussle would have frowned (were her face not frozen) on using Facebook.

— Lynn

Note: Theater Works’ Youth Works performs “Hairspray” at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts Feb 3-19, 2012 and Mesa Encore Theatre performs “Hairspray” at Mesa Arts Center May 25-June 3, 2012.

Coming up: AriZoni nominations

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