Junior gets chance at dream role in Temple Theaters' upcoming production of Hairspray
by Logan Beck
Junior theater major Salvatore Mirando made his theater debut in eighth grade, as the iconic Nicely Nicely Johnson in Guys and Dolls with the classic Broadway hit, “Sit Down You’re Rocking The Boat.”
It was then that Mirando discovered his talent for comedic roles, and inspired him to cultivate those characters during his time at Temple.
“I've gone from playing the sinister comedic relief in the show of Thénardier in Les Misérables to the fun, carefree, and lovable Wilbur in Charlotte's Web," said Mirando.
This October, Mirando will be portraying his dream role in Temple Theaters’ production of Hairspray: Edna Turnblad. Mirando has been dreaming of the role since he was eleven-years-old, and the character holds a meaningful significance in his life.
“One a rainy Saturday, my aunt took me to Manhattan to go see the Hairspray movie starring John Travolta,” Mirando said. “After the final number, 'You Can't Stop The Beat' ended and the lights came back on in the movie theatre I was in tears. I looked at my aunt and said, ‘This is what I have to do with my life.’”
Mirando feels a strong connection to his character because he grew up in a large Italian family with a strong female presence, qualities he will use to embody Edna in an authentic, believable way. This will be Mirando’s first performance in drag, and he is excited to bring Edna’s larger than life character to the stage.
“I know first hand what Edna means when she says certain things,” Mirando said. “There's no surprise that I'm a big guy, and have been constantly told that I'm not meant for theater. Edna Turnblad challenges that idea and allows one to grow and be comfortable with what God gave them. ‘Go big or go home’ is our director’s favorite quote and I really take that to heart.”
After seeing Hairspray in the movie theater, Mirando was inspired by John Travolta’s performance, but he also looks to performances by Harvey Fierstein (the original Edna on Broadway), Michael Ball, and Robin Williams’ comedy and timing techniques for inspiration.
While Hairspray takes place in the 1960s, Mirando feels that the themes and subject matter of the musical are particularly relevant to today’s society, especially because of recent events.
“True, we have come a long way from the 1960s but we've got so far to go,” Mirando said. “To take such a serious topic and dress it up in these big wigs, big costumes, and big performance numbers just allows us to use comedy to get our message out. The show is incredibly fun, but take the seriousness of our society’s injustices and turns them into a heartfelt story for everyone to enjoy, relate to, and learn from. Hairspray teaches a simple message, 'love.'”
Temple’s production of Hairspray, under the direction of Peter Reynolds and choreographer Maggie Anderson, will feature a cast of thirty-two student actors. In Mirando’s words, he is excited to translate what he’s learned in the classroom to present and collaborate with his fellow actors on a “fat” musical.
Mirando is most looking forward to performing “Welcome to the 60s,” a turning point scene for his character that requires an major physical transformation for his character, with of course, some fabulous high-heeled shoes.
Broadway is Mirando’s ultimate goal, but he will be satisfied becoming a working actor regardless.
“That doesn't stop my family from telling me that I need to get them front row seats when I make it to Broadway,” Mirando said.