"Hairspray." The musical. Think big hair, bright colors and, well, hairspray. Think dancing.
That's the theatrical concoction York resident Lacontiss Jones Briscoe and her fellow cast members are mixing as she rehearses her role as Motormouth Maybelle with Hanover's Acts of Kindness Theatre.
Let's start with the hair and makeup. It's in the hands of professionals. And after last year, "Hairspray" production director Jessica Staub isn't worried about the challenge of taking audiences back to the 1960s.
"Dress rehearsals are next week. We'll start doing the hair and makeup then," she says. "We had a ball last year doing 'Cats' with the makeup, full face, body. This year's seems easy after that."
Briscoe has tried out her "Hairspray" look already. "I love it. Had this makeup for the first time this week -- (and) just (the) expressions from the cast. I hadn't seen myself. When I saw it, I was like: 'Wow.' The girl who did my makeup is amazing."
"I posted a picture of me to Facebook, (and) people didn't know it was me," Briscoe says.
For a cause: Wigs and hair tie into this year's charity cause. AOK likes to thematically link charities with the musical choice. Last year, with "Cats," it was the SPCA. This year, AOK picked Wigs for Kids.
"The organization provides wigs and hats for children going through chemotherapy with temporary hair loss or kids with diseases like alopecia that cause permanent hair loss," Staub says. "Wigs and hairpieces are really expensive for people with medical issues going on."
It's the feature of AOK that makes Staub most proud of the entire endeavor.
"The whole giving back to the community is sort of our theme," she says. "Ten thousand dollars a year to the organizations. We've raised over $70,000 (over the past seven years). I hope that continues this year."
Staub says she feels the cast members appreciate having a cause to support. "The teens and college students in the cast love doing theater. We push them to do so much more, raising money for our cause, helping kids with cancer."
The troupe: Acts of Kindness Theatre was founded by Staub and her husband, Rene, who share creative duties. They performed "The Wizard of Oz" in a former Kmart at the North Hanover Mall, donating the proceeds to the Hanover Area Council of Churches to help start a homeless shelter.
Most of the AOK focus is on the summer musical production, but a smaller group of actors, the AOK Players, perform in Adams and York County libraries, tying their interactive shows to the summer reading program themes.
Being on stage as an actor is something Briscoe never imagined -- although she might have dreamed about it.
Briscoe, who moved to York in 2006, has always been interested in the theater but never saw herself onstage.
"I've always loved theater, musical theater. I'm the music director for York County's Men on a Mission, a Christian singing group. I was minister of music at my father's church in Baltimore for 30 years," she says. "I've been to York Little Theatre. I didn't dream I would actually participate (in theater). It was a secret dream."
First-timers: Although AOK has some returning actors every year, auditions are always a surprise.
"We do it every year, we find someone we've never worked with before," Staub says. "This is the perfect part for her (Briscoe). Never worked with her before, (but) she's amazing."
For Briscoe, the experience has been a positive one.
"I'm having the time of my life. Everyone involved -- the directors, the cast, the musical director: perfect," she says. "I wouldn't have wasted my time if I didn't feel the love."
Briscoe may end up on stage again, she says. "At first I said, this is it, I've done it, but after doing this, seeing it come together, I'd do it again."
Briscoe laughs as she recounts the reaction to her adult debut as an actress: "It's no surprise to my family; they say 'what took you so long?'"
Don't be shy: The choice of musical was part of the draw. Briscoe remembers "the original and the John Travolta version. I liked how they adapted it, thought that was pretty neat. I like the whole thing; it's a fun musical. Musicals all have their little drama ... integration ... but with music, fun, dancing, some of the themes, it's a fun musical."
Staub is worried people might be a bit hesitant about the content.
"People aren't sure if it's a 'pick up the whole family and come' show. I hope they don't let it turn them away. There are some social themes, segregation, integration -- the 60s was a turbulent time overshadowing it -- but it's a fun time, costumes, music, upbeat," she says. "It's a fun show for the cast; they're enjoying the whole aspect of the period, the 1960s, enjoying costuming, hair."
And the chance to help others.
-- Reach Michelle Denise Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See the show
The musical "Hairspray" plays over two weekends at New Oxford High School, 130 Berlin Road, New Oxford.
The Acts of Kindness Theatre production starts at 7 p.m. Fridays, July 20 and 27, and Saturdays, July 21 and 28, and at 2 p.m. Sundays, July 22 and 29.
Tickets are $14 for adults and $12 for students for general admission. Preferred seating is $2 extra. Group discounts are available.
For more information, call 717-334-5006 or check out Acts of Kindness online at www.aoktheatre.com.