Family hits stage in production of 'Hairspray'

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PAUL VERNON/THISWEEKNEWS
Bruce Huffman, who will be playing Mr. Spritzer, a security guard and a gym teacher in SRO Theater Company's production of Hairspray Feb. 22-March 10 at the Shedd Theater of the Columbus Performing Arts Center, poses with his daughters Taryn (left), 12, who will play Frieda and Catherine, 15, who will play Lou Ann.
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For a change, Bruce Huffman will not be in the audience applauding his two daughters.

He'll be right on stage with them.

Huffman, along with daughters Catherine and Taryn, is part of a local production of Hairspray, a musical based on a 1988 movie of the same name.

SRO Theatre Company, in association with CATCO, will perform Hairspray on Feb. 22 through March 10 at the Shedd Theatre in the Columbus Performing Arts Center, 549 Franklin Ave. on the Near East Side.

"You don't get a lot of opportunities to do these kinds of things with your kids," said Huffman, who will play a guard and gym teacher.

Hairspray is a Tony Award-winning musical set in 1962 Baltimore. It features dance-crazy Tracy Turnblad, a pudgy, good-natured teen who wants to win a spot on a local TV dance show. After accomplishing her goal, she seeks to racially integrate the program.

Tickets, available at srotheatre.org, are $20 for adults, $17 for those 55 and older, $15 for SRO members and $10 for students.

Show times are 8 p.m. Feb. 22 and 23 and March 1, 2, 8 and 9; 2 p.m. Feb. 24 and March 10; and 10:30 a.m. March 10.

Huffman, who lives with his family in Powell, said he was in a few musicals while a student at Thomas Worthington High School, from which he graduated in 1987.

In 2010, when Taryn Huffman was in a local production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, her father expressed remorse in not auditioning.

She, in turn, urged her dad and sister to try out for Hairspray so they could be on stage together. When an actor dropped out of the part, Huffman stepped in.

"At first, I thought it would be weird. I was afraid my dad was going to embarrass me, but he's doing well," said Taryn, 12, who plays Frieda Fender, a re-imagined part from the original screenplay.

Catherine, who plays Lou Ann and is the dance captain for the show, said she doesn't find it awkward to be on stage with her father.

"It's not that different," she said. "You have a character you need to play. If you think inside your character, it makes it a lot easier."

Taryn and Catherine, 15, have been entertainment-oriented since they were young children.

Taryn, an aspiring actress, had a role the Light of Freedom, a locally produced Civil War film by KICKS Flicks Ministries that is due to be released this summer.

Catherine, meanwhile, is actively involved in BalletMet and wants to be a contemporary ballet dancer.

The two sisters, along with brother Kelan, 9, all have shared the stage for the past two years in the Nutcracker. All are home-schooled.

Huffman, a teacher at Johnstown High School, said he's enjoyed his latest stint in acting and working with his daughters.

"One of the things is it's given me an appreciation of how hard they work," he said. "It's quite a bit different being in it. Really, it's a challenge, more so than I would have guessed."

Joe Bishara, artistic director for CATCO, said he's known the Huffmans for four years.

Taryn played the lead role in CATCO is Kids' performance of Madeline's Christmas, while Catherine worked backstage. Meanwhile, Bruce Huffman has been a staunch advocate of CATCO.

"They're just such a wonderful family in every sense of the term," Bishara said, "and to give them this opportunity to perform together, they've earned it."

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