Hairspray gives Langley thespian superhero powers

Elyse Maloway is feeling much like a superhero this week, following the opening of Hairspray – The Broadway Musical at the Stanley Park’s Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) season.

“The messages of acceptance and the power we all have to make change are infectious, and you can’t help feeling like a superhero. A singing, dancing superhero,” said the 22-year-old Langley Secondary grad who reluctantly gave up participating in Langley’s own Bard in the Valley (BiV) this year to take her turn on the TUTS stage.

She’s playing Amber in Hairspray, a production that takes audiences back to 1962 Baltimore, where loveable, larger-than-life heroine Tracy Turnblad has one plucky dream: to dance on the local TV program, The Corny Collins Show.

Maloway attended the general tryouts back in early spring with the hope of securing the role of Amber.

“I did audition with the role in mind, partially because it’s so much fun to be the bad guy, but also because she’s not supposed to be a good dancer, and as an ‘enthusiastic mover’ myself, I felt I could pull that off,” Maloway shared with the Langley Advance.

Asked about the similarities between herself and her character, Maloway hoped they are few and far between.

“I think Amber and I are both Type A personalities,” she admitted. But added with a chuckle that “Amber just takes being in control too far.”

This role, she insisted, has pushed her as an artist.

“Having such intensive dancing in the show has challenged me to up my game at every moment. I’ve learned so much through the rehearsals,” she said, noting rehearsals have run four days a week since mid-May in preparation for this week’s launch.

This is Maloway’s first TUTS production, but the Langley City girl is no stranger to the stage.

In fact, she’s been acting since Grade 5 and it’s odd for her not to be on stage with Bard in the Valley, where she’s been for the past four years – first as Celia in As You Like It, then Olivia in Twelfth Night, Luciana in The Comedy of Errors, and Caius Cassius in Julius Caesar.

“It was very strange and bittersweet to not return to Douglas Park for BiV’s production of Love’s Labours Lost this summer. But I am very excited to see the show on an off-night from Hairspray,” said the recent musical theatre graduate from Capilano University.

The aspiring script writer was first introduced to Hairspray on the big screen.

“I remember seeing it in the theatre and thinking ‘Wow, this energy is electric!’ A few years later, after re-watching the movie and singing the songs countless times, I saw the touring Broadway production and was blown away all over again by how stirring the performance was,” Maloway said.

“It’s one on those shows where it’s impossible not to feel amazing afterwards,” she added.

While Maloway aspires to be a full-time actor, she currently works in the kitchen at Bridges Restaurant on Granville Island to pay the bills.

“Sadly it’s extremely difficult to support oneself on theatre in Vancouver,” she said. 

But she has recently signed with an agent, hoping to land more auditions for film and TV roles. And this fall she’s will be part of fellow Langleyite Ellie King’s production of Dracula, taking on the role of the swooning Lucy Seward, “which is a paid gig, so yay!”

“Hairspray is the perfect show for these beautiful summer nights. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll dance in your seat, it’s a wild ride you won’t want to miss!” she said, inviting people to attend the outdoor theatre production.

Hairspray opened Tuesday, July 14 at Malkin Bowl in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. The show is paired with Oliver and runs until Aug. 22.


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