ALAMEDA -- The winner of eight Tony Awards and a Broadway sensation that ran for more than 2,500 performances, the musical "Hairspray" has been making its own mark on Alameda.

"We've been having great audiences that just seem to love the show," said Robert Morehead, who directs the musical for Encinal High School. "It's such a fun show, and it has a great message. When you get those two things together, you've got a winner. This is a great show for our seniors -- a wonderful way for them to end their high school career."

Young people can easily relate to "Hairspray" with its high school setting and teenage angst. It takes place in 1962 Baltimore, where plump teen Tracy Turnblad dreams of dancing on the local TV dance program. When she wins a spot on the program, she sets off a host of fireworks. Great song and dance numbers keep the show entertaining while well-done social commentary on racial prejudice and more gives the show substance.

"We've come a long way since 1962," Morehouse said. "But it's really interesting for the high school students to look back at how things were -- things that their grandparents dealt with. It's like a mini-history lesson."

Morehouse also notes how well audiences react to the love song between Tracy's mom Edna (always played by a man) and "her" husband.

"Our two cast members do such a wonderful job with the relationship and the song that audiences just fall in love with them," he said. "We even did the number for a student body assembly, and they really enjoyed it and reacted appropriately."

IF YOU GO
"Hairspray" opened March 14 and continues through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Encinal High School gymnasium, 210 Central Ave., Alameda. Tickets are available by phone at 510-748-4023, ext. 3111 or online at www.ehs.alamedausd.ca.