Last Friday night Matt and I had the good fortune of photographing a dress rehearsal of the musical Hairspray produced by the Brooklyn Players Community Musical Theater. The evening was a bit of a departure from our usual weekend habits. The previous few Friday nights had seen me deeply ensconced in our sofa cushions with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s at 9pm, not singing along to rousing musical numbers about racial injustice in Baltimore in the 1960s while a diverse cast of thespians in crinoline skirts dance around me.

Gotta love Tracy Turnblad.

Gotta love Ms. Tracy Turnblad.

Last weekend I left the Brooklyn Music School Playhouse with a newfound appreciation for community theater. The nearest institution I can compare it to is church, where fellowship and pageantry can combine in mysterious ways—sometimes out of gd nowhere—to make you love your neighbors. At both assemblies you find yourself deeply curious about the people on stage, the people in the pews, and what drives them to sing and dance and come together. On Friday I was moved by Hairspray’s freewheeling and infectious enthusiasm, the visceral sense of the actors as they dashed down the aisle (so close I could smell their perfume and feel the shaking of the floor), the stratum of white bobby socks that someone had put so much thought into, and the artistic drive that had brought the whole talented cast and crew to that particular moment in the spotlight. In short, it was a special night, and I hope that lots of folks will exchange Cherry Garcia for community this Saturday in order to support a tremendously uplifting production. You don’t even have to wear your church clothes.

FINAL TWO SHOWS:

Saturday, April 16, at 3 and 8 p.m., at Brooklyn Music School Playhouse, 126 Saint Felix Street, around the corner from BAM. Tickets are $20 (or $15 for children and seniors) in advance, or $25 at the door. You can reserve your seats here.

Motormouth Mabel's solo will give you all the chills.

Motormouth Mabel’s solo will give you all the chills.

Good morning, Brooklyn!

Good morning, Brooklyn!

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The choir on the hill.