Elyse Maloway is feeling much like a superhero this week, following the opening of Hairspray â€“ The Broadway Musical at the Stanley Parkâ€™s Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) season.
â€œThe messages of acceptance and the power we all have to make change are infectious, and you canâ€™t help feeling like a superhero. A singing, dancing superhero,â€ said the 22-year-old Langley Secondary grad who reluctantly gave up participating in Langleyâ€™s own Bard in the Valley (BiV) this year to take her turn on the TUTS stage.
Sheâ€™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.
â€œI did audition with the role in mind, partially because itâ€™s so much fun to be the bad guy, but also because sheâ€™s not supposed to be a good dancer, and as an â€˜enthusiastic moverâ€™ myself, I felt I could pull that off,â€ Maloway shared with the Langley Advance.
Asked about the similarities between herself and her character, Maloway hoped they are few and far between.
â€œI think Amber and I are both Type A personalities,â€ she admitted. But added with a chuckle that â€œAmber just takes being in control too far.â€
This role, she insisted, has pushed her as an artist.
â€œHaving such intensive dancing in the show has challenged me to up my game at every moment. Iâ€™ve learned so much through the rehearsals,â€ she said, noting rehearsals have run four days a week since mid-May in preparation for this weekâ€™s launch.
This is Malowayâ€™s first TUTS production, but the Langley City girl is no stranger to the stage.
In fact, sheâ€™s been acting since Grade 5 and itâ€™s odd for her not to be on stage with Bard in the Valley, where sheâ€™s been for the past four years â€“ 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.
â€œIt was very strange and bittersweet to not return to Douglas Park for BiVâ€™s production of Loveâ€™s Labours Lost this summer. But I am very excited to see the show on an off-night from Hairspray,â€ said the recent musical theatre graduate from Capilano University.
The aspiring script writer was first introduced to Hairspray on the big screen.
â€œI remember seeing it in the theatre and thinking â€˜Wow, this energy is electric!â€™ 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,â€ Maloway said.
â€œItâ€™s one on those shows where itâ€™s impossible not to feel amazing afterwards,â€ 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.
â€œSadly itâ€™s extremely difficult to support oneself on theatre in Vancouver,â€ she said.
But she has recently signed with an agent, hoping to land more auditions for film and TV roles. And this fall sheâ€™s will be part of fellow Langleyite Ellie Kingâ€™s production of Dracula, taking on the role of the swooning Lucy Seward, â€œwhich is a paid gig, so yay!â€
â€œHairspray is the perfect show for these beautiful summer nights. Youâ€™ll laugh, youâ€™ll cry, youâ€™ll dance in your seat, itâ€™s a wild ride you wonâ€™t want to miss!â€ she said, inviting people to attend the outdoor theatre production.
Hairspray opened Tuesday, July 14 at Malkin Bowl in Vancouverâ€™s Stanley Park. The show is paired with Oliver and runs until Aug. 22.