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Sisters reverse personality roles for musical
'Hairspray' opens Thursday
Heather Minter (left) may be more outgoing than her reserved younger sister Elisabet Minter, but the two play roles opposite of their personalities in "Hairspray."
Monday, July 21, 2014
By HOLLY KOZELSKY - Staff Writer
Through the characters they play in TheatreWorks Community Players’ production of “Hairspray,” the Minter sisters are not just taking on roles, but reversing them.
Elisabet, the quiet one, will portray the outgoing Tracy Turnblad, and Heather, the outgoing one, will portray Tracy’s reserved mother, Edna. The show opens Thursday.
The musical is set in Baltimore in 1962. Plump teenager Tracy Turnblad, a social outcast, finally gets the role of her dreams: to dance on a popular TV show. She must use her newfound power to dethrone the reigning teen queen, win over a boy and integrate a TV network.
Elisabet describes Tracy as “full of life, bubbly (and) happy-go-lucky. ... Even when things get rough, she has that go-get-’em attitude.”
Heather describes Edna, whom the neighbors have not seen since she was a size 10, as “not the girliest of girls, but she (has) an unconditional love for her husband and child. She loves to be in love” and is funny.
Playing mother and daughter is no stretch for the Minter sisters. At 33, Heather is 10 years older than Elisabet. Until Elisabet was out of college, the two had more of a mother-daughter relationship than that of siblings, both said.
“She’s always been like Mama Number Two,” Elisabet said.
Because her sister is shy, Heather said, it is brave and exciting for her to take such a visible role.
Being in the show together is “not much different than everyday life, because we’ve always been a team,” she said. It “reinforces that bond we already have.”
In fact, “Hairspray” is turning into a family event. Their father, Wendell, is in the ensemble. Their mother, Deloris, plans to volunteer during the show’s run with duties such as selling tickets or serving refreshments.
Elisabet and her parents live in Ridgeway, and Heather lives on Barrows Mill Road and works at Complete Foot Care. Elisabet and Heather’s grandparents, Hettie and Jackie Minter, live in Axton.
The sisters have performed together in the annual Christmas program at Mount Hermon Church of the Brethren all their lives, they said.
Elisabet was in a few theater productions at Magna Vista High School, but she didn’t perform again until recently. This is her third show with TheatreWorks and her first major role.
Preparing to play the lead character is “fun, but it could easily drain me,” she said. “If I don’t put enough time and effort into it, it could easily slip away.”
She practices as much as she can at home and during the children’s nap time at Head Start, where she is a substitute teacher.
The development of her character has “slowly evolved into something I feel proud of and really love and want to make wonderful,” with the goal being someone the audience “can really relate to,” Elisabet said.
When she found out she had landed the lead, she was “excited ... and nervous at the same time,” she said.
She saw “Hairspray” on Broadway with the MVHS Show Choir when she was a teenager, and she always has loved the character of Tracy.
Portraying the timid Edna Turnblad takes Heather in the opposite direction from her first TheatreWorks production, when she played the bawdy Madame Thenardier in “Les Miserables.”
When Heather was in high school, she sang in show choir. Until recently, though, she “always had that fear of rejection” that prevented her from trying out for acting roles.
However, she underwent a transformation, she said: She began to see her worth through Jesus instead of through the way she perceived other people thought of her.
At the same time, she saw an encouraging ad for the cast of “Les Miserables.” Roles were for “no dancing, all shapes, all sizes, no age” limits, she recalled. She was cast in a major role, and Elisabet was a member of the ensemble.
Both women are long-time fans of “Hairspray.” It has “a great story of loving yourself and loving others, no matter outward appearance,” Heather said. “It’s what God wants us to do: Love everyone ... (and) to bring joy to the world no matter what we look like.”
She views that message as pertinent for this area. “Even though we are a diverse community, there are still some struggles getting along with one another.”
They also admire the optimism of Tracy.
“For years I’ve always said you’d be the perfect Tracy,” Heather told her sister.
Other cast members are Aaron Boles, Britteny Palmer, Brittany Markuson, Bryan Dunn, Brittany Brown, Charlene Hewitt, Carter Wheeler, Corey Thompson, Demi Richardson, DeMarco King, Danee Simmons, D’Allen Simmons, Donna Owens, Gloria Williamson, Hannah Wiggonton, Isaiah Young, Jena Kasey, Lanetta Byrd, Louandrea Young, Max Hall, Ray Harper, Spurgeon Boothe, Scott Holder, Tish Owens, Tamera Price, Will Zimmer and Zach McPeak.
Performances will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and Thursday, July 31; 7 p.m. Aug. 1-2 and 8-9; and 2 p.m. Aug. 10 . The musical will be in the Black Box Theatre at 44 Franklin St. in uptown Martinsville.
All tickets ($20) may be purchased at Piedmont Arts or www.twcp.net.
For more information, call 632-3221 or visit www.twcp.net.