A little 'Hairspray' goes a long way

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Students find many benefits in performing arts

By Robert Villanueva

Like many other students at John Hardin High School, sophomore Christopher Narmi has found the performing arts beneficial in a variety of ways.


At 15, Narmi already knows he wants to be a professional musician.

Narmi, who is in choir and speech, performed in the school’s production of “Hairspray” in February. He said being involved in theater, choir and speech has helped him develop rhythm and an ear for music.

The performing arts, he said, also allow him the opportunity to be creative and expressive.

“You get to be bigger than life,” Narmi said.

The plot of “Hairspray” concerns character Tracy Turnblad, a teenage girl who becomes a local celebrity after winning a spot on “The Corny Collins Show,” a TV dance show. Among other things, she sets out to racially integrate the show.

JHHS students in the show, like Tracy, find themselves going through transformations.

Alexis Mink, a JHHS junior, said the performing arts have helped her become comfortable speaking in front of people and allow her to express herself.

“It builds confidence,” Mink, 16, said.

She cited teamwork as a benefit of participating in productions like “Hairspray.”

“Plays are always great learning experiences because you have people helping you with your singing and dancing,” Mink said.

JHHS junior Cooper Knight, 17, enjoyed being involved in productions like “Hairspray” and “being able to entertain people.”

“It’s a thrill,” Knight said during a rehearsal, describing the experience as “inspiring.”

More importantly, he said, the performing arts teach him people skills and, in a broader sense, increases his understanding of different viewpoints. Because he has to learn what motivates a character, he said, he must learn to be able to look at things from different perspectives.

Some students reaped benefits from the performing arts through long-standing participation.

Having secured roles in numerous productions, including “Charlotte’s Web,” “Inherit the Wind” and “A Christmas Carol,” Narmi is no stranger to the stage.

“This year I knew what to do,” he said.

Though being in the performing arts has helped with his confidence, Narmi said he still gets nervous. He doesn’t mind, he said, because that goes hand-in-hand with discipline.

Unlike Narmi, JHHS junior Abraham Wrice, 17, did not have an extensive stage background.

“This will be my first year doing a play,” Wrice said during a rehearsal for “Hairspray.”

Wrice’s main goal was “to not be nervous.”

“Just being up there with others you’re working with helps,” he said.

In fact, Wrice said, such help was the main benefit of working in the performing arts.

“We need to learn to work as a group,” he said.

Wrice, who plans to pursue an acting career, said the performances got easier after the first one. At times, he said, he and other cast members were forced to ad lib, but he felt they pulled it off.

Just as his character, Seaweed, helped Tracy get on “The Corny Collins Show” and integrate it, so has Wince’s participation in the performing arts had a positive impact on him, he said.

“It influenced change,” Wrice said.

Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com.