Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Behind the Music(al) :: Hairspray :: The REAL star of the show

So here's a little trivia question for you:
What do highways and the musical I am currently working on have in common?




Give up?

OK. I'll tell you. The answer is: a SONOTUBE.

If you don't care to click through the link above to find out what a sonotube is, let me just tell you that it's a gigantic form used in highway, bridge, and building construction to pour giant concrete pillars. Pretty cool, eh? But what in the world could we possibly use something like that for in a musical production, right?

Well, let me clue you in with a picture of the sonotube that we have been using in action...

Does it closely resemble anything to you? How about a giant sort of something that might be a real centerpiece type prop for the production of Hairspray that we are doing. How about a giant HAIRSPRAY CAN?

Ah yes! Now you see it, right? *high five*

I am extraordinarily blessed to work at a school where we have quite a very well developed, established, accomplished, and respected performance art program. There are some families that actually send there kids to my school because of the performance arts even! Because of that, we have talented kids out the wazoo and parents and their families who are very VERY committed to supporting the performance art dreams and aspirations of their kids. The great blessing that comes with that is that we have quite a bit of students whose parents have their own contracting and construction companies and every year there is some family that steps up to help spearhead the building of the incredibly elaborate sets that I am so blessed to be able to adorn and decorate and we are able to use to showcase the performances more incredibly.

This year with Hairspray we knew that one of the big main pieces of the set would be a giant hairspray can that one of the characters would be able to actually climb into and pop out of in the finale. Research was done for pre-production to determine how it would happen that we would have a convincingly real giant hairspray can but ultimately we ended up going the way of the sonotube when the brilliant set engineer and builder parent spearheading things this year suggested it. Add a circular pond liner found at any home improvement super store and a white plastic bucket sans the metal handle? And voila! We've got the most realistic giant hairspray can you could possibly imagine encountering in real life!!! Here it is in the process of being hand painted by yours truly...

As you can see, it opens up french door-style for the purposes of popping out and surprising the audience.

Two students helped me to prime and roller paint everything on the ground and I did everything that required major climbing of the ladder. I also hand lettered and and painted all of the embellishments.

I put the bucket "nozzle" back on top before I left today. It's not securely affixed because decisions are still being made for the purposes of a special effects to help assist in making a BIG finish happen at the end of the show.

I don't remember the original dimensions of the sonotube but I would say that the finished hairspray can from base to nozzle is well over 15 feet tall. It is also on casters that are hidden at the base where there is a recessed floor made of planked plyboard.  The can is mostly finished and the only thing left is for me to finish painting the asterisk pattern all the way around the sides to the back. The goal with the painting of it was to adhere as closely as possible to the can designed for all of the printed materials of the show and I think I managed to do that pretty well. My department head/the director originally thought I would put the wig design on the label but the original Hairspray production uses the Ultra Clutch brand name and so that made more sense to me and when people saw it like that instead of having the wig, everyone was more than pleased.

We keep saying that we don't know what we are going to do with this thing once the show is over because we have no place to store it whatsoever. There is major discussion (that is probably going to happen) about selling it to another theater company once we are done with it but I will tell you something, I secretly wish I had the space at my house to take it home with me. Seriously. I would TOTALLY put it in my house and upholster the inside and make it some weird hideaway in a corner of my house. I have always had a secret obsession with anything that might be unusually small or unreasonably large and this giant hairspray can? Well, it totally fits the bill for something that I would LOVE to call my own for the rest of my days. *sigh* So, despite the fact that it was like the dickens to paint, well... I (now not so) secretly loved every moment of it!!! I mean seriously? Even before it was painted I would look at it and it would just make me chuckle in a totally non-conspicuous way and then I would just feel all smiley and happy inside. And if I had something in my house like that? Well now - if I ever was having a bad day? Surely it would be swiftly quelled with just a glance of the gigantic hairspray can taking up space in my living room and if that wasn't enough I could crawl inside of it and I would probably feel better almost immediately. (How weird do you all think I am now? I don't care. I DON'T EVEN CARE!!!)


So, perhaps you have some serious cash to buy this off of my school's theater department once we are done with it. I'll let you all know when it goes on sale! ;) Just promise me that if you do end up buying it, you take care of this sweet giant baby with all of the TLC you have for the rest of your life.


  1. Is this available for purchase now? I am class president and each class has to make a float and skit for our big homecoming parade. If it really is available for purchase, I am interested!

    1. I am not certain that it is still for sale. I believe it was sold within the school year that we made it (which would mean about a year ago). I have no idea who purchased it and where it ended up. If you are seriously interested in more information about it (in the event that it wasn't actually sold) I can provide you with that - please email me directly at DreamPrayCreate[AT]gmail[dot]com so that I can get some more information from you (like your budget, when you need it by, how you would pick it up, etc.) Like I said though, I have no idea if it's still available.

  2. Hi! Thank you for your ideas. We're putting one together for a church musical and my husband's in charge to build the hairspray can. What did you use for the top/nozzle?


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