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Julian Wiles, Founder and Producing Artistic Director
Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director

September 7, 2010

Becoming Tracy Turnblad, by Charleston Stage Resident Actor Mary-E Godfrey

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 8:47 am

Tracy is iconic because, true to his form, John Waters has created an atypical leading character. Tracy is larger than life, but not just because of her body type. She is wholeheartedly determined to conquer her dreams and refuses to be sidetracked by outside influences. The biggest challenge for me in this role is finding that strength not to be deterred by the, as Motormouth Maybelle would say, “never-ending parade of stupid” that surrounds Tracy; and finding joy, light, and genuine fascination with everything and everyone in Baltimore.

Preparation for the show for me included going back to the original 1988 John Water’s film. I’ve been in love with the music and story of Hairspray since I first heard it my sophomore year of high school. I have belted along with Marissa Jaret Winokur in my car more times than I can count in the past seven years. But since being cast in the role I have fought with my script and marked up my score beyond recognition trying to find the balance between craft and communication needed to perform this role.

I can relate to Tracy because I have always been one of the biggest girls in my class at school, and it has always been difficult for me to overcome my body to be seen by boys, the popular kids, and casting directors in theatre. However, with maybe a bit more cynical approach than Tracy would have, I have finally found what is beautiful in the world around me and use it to inspire my actions, much like Tracy does.



Front left: Charleston Stage Resident Actor Mary-E Godfrey as Tracy Turnblad.



Charleston Stage Resident Actor Mary-E Godfrey as Tracy Turnblad.


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