For people who love to sing and dance in front of an audience, landing a role in a spirited musical is plenty rewarding.
For cast members of an upcoming production of "Hairspray," knowing that all the hard work of memorizing their lines and rehearsing the songs will help feed the hungry adds an additional layer of satisfaction.
"I really like that what we're doing -- and we aren't getting paid for it, it's a big time commitment and it's hard work, it takes some dedication and follow-through -- gives me the opportunity to teach my children some values and giving back to the community," said Romaine Roberts, a Galloway resident who has the role of Motormouth Maybelle in the play.
The Columbus Recreation and Parks Department is presenting the performances of the musical that was derived from the 1988 John Waters' film of the same name later this month. Proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Empty Bowls project, now in its 20th year.
John Heisel, who heads up the Carriage Place Recreation Center theater program, is directing the production of "Hairspray," with show times set for 7 p.m. Oct. 20-22. A 2 p.m. performance is also planned for Oct. 22.
Tickets are $5 at the door. Reservations can be made by calling the Westgate Community Center at 614-645-3264.
Rehearsal and performance space is at the center, 455 S. Westgate Ave.
Heisel said the Carriage Place theater program and the one at Westgate headed up by Stephanie Schirtzinger are combining forces for this year's production, which benefits the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.
Last year's Empty Bowls performances of "The Wizard of Oz" raised more than $5,000 for the food bank, Heisel said.
"Hairspray," which started as an almost underground film with Divine in a major role, was made into a Broadway musical in 2002 and then into a second film version in 2007 featuring John Travolta in drag.
It is the tale of dance-mad teens in 1960s Baltimore, Heisel said, and the plot involves important issues, including racial intolerance.
"First of all, it's kind of like a pop culture phenomenon type of thing," Heisel said.
"When it came out as a Broadway musical, that was a big thing. Then they just repeated it on television. ...
"It was probably the most-watched live Broadway musical in recent television history," Heisel said.
"It touches so many different important issues nowadays."
"(Motormouth Maybelle) is the mother of a couple of the kids, the black characters," Roberts said of her role in the story.
"She kind of helps facilitate the integration process. She offers a lot of motivation to Tracy and the children, and to Edna, Tracy's mom.
"I really am glad I got the role because she plays such an important part," Roberts said.
"The rehearsals have been going really well," said Megan Masciola, a 16-year-old junior at Olentangy Orange High School, Masciola landed the role of Tracy Turnblad.
"Our cast is super into the show," Masciola said. "If our vocal director gives us an assignment, we stick to it and get it done. Everyone's been super supportive and really helpful."
Masciola said discovering the production will also be helping a worthy cause has only added to the cast's enjoyment of their involvement.
"As we got more into the rehearsal process and learned more about what was going on, to know what I'm doing is helping the community in a small way made me feel good," she said.
"I just have to go on stage and people are going to get fed. It just feels really good to know that I'm helping."
"It's a double blessing," Heisel said.
The Oct. 20-22 production of "Hairspray" features a cast of more than 50 people, the director added.