The New Albany Middle School drama club is moving up to a bigger stage.

The New Albany Middle School drama club is moving up to a bigger stage.

Hairspray Jr., scheduled April 8 and 9, is the first show the club will perform at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts.

Director Kelle Dildine said an increased number of students, along with a greater amount of talent, is the reason behind the venue change. Previously, the club had performed shows in the school cafeteria.

"We're just very lucky that we have the depth of talent that it takes to perform on a professional stage," Dildine said.

The club members hope to fill the McCoy's approximately 780 seats, she said. For cafeteria performances, the audience was limited to about 250.

Along with its increased size, the McCoy also provides improved technology and equipment, Dildine said. At the cafeteria, productions were done without a sound system or lighting, and audience members sat in plastic chairs.

"It's really a totally different ball game when you compare the two," she said.

The McCoy offers the students production lighting and a 30-foot-wide, 20-foot-high cyclorama for movies and PowerPoint presentations, Dildine said. A student produced an iMovie and PowerPoint presentation that will be shown during the show as a backdrop.

Dildine said she hopes the club can continue to perform its shows at the McCoy. The conversation to use the venue began two years ago when she started working with the club. The cafeteria required quite a bit of work from staff members to handle performances, and she wanted the opportunity for students to use a professional theater space.

"The cafeteria was so challenging in many ways," Dildine said.

Hairspray Jr. will feature a cast of 45 students, three of whom are ninth-graders, she said.

Twenty-five students are in the crew.

"We've never had such an active crew," she said.

New with the venue is a student-run concessions stand, Dildine said. Additionally, the club will hold a "dinner and a show" to commemorate the premiere April 8. Food trucks will be available for visitors before both the 3:30 and 7 p.m. shows.

Seventh-grader Hannah Bank, who plays the lead role of Tracy Turnblad, said the new venue would help the audience realize the club's professionalism.

"It's a way bigger deal, and a lot of people take it more seriously when we have it at the McCoy," Bank said.

Both Bank and Ewan Drew, an eighth-grader playing the role of Link Larkin, have performed on McCoy's stage as part of other productions.

Drew said the McCoy has an atmosphere that is more serious than the school's cafeteria. That difference makes a better show, he said.

"In the McCoy, it's a lot more of a formal place, and so you have to be more serious while there," he said.

Hairspray Jr. which chronicles the story of a teen's experience dancing on The Corny Collins Show in the 1960s, will be staged at 3:30 and 7 p.m. on April 8 and 9 at the McCoy, 100 W. Dublin-Granville Road.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for students, staff members and seniors.

To purchase tickets, call the CAPA ticket center at 614-469-0939 or contact Ticketmaster via phone at 800-745-3000 or online at ticketmaster.com. Tickets also can be purchased at the CAPA ticket center, 39 E. State St. in Columbus.