Columbus school using famous musical to help students with life lessons

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A musical set in the 1960s is being used as a way to break barriers of racism, sexism and body image issues for high school students.

"There's a problem with racism at our schools," said Christopher Ray, theater director at Whetstone High School. "The kids don't agree with each other and they use the 'N-word' like it's... like, matter-of-factly. And you try to address that and it's just not understood."

Whetstone is presenting "Hairspray" this weekend as its first musical. Through musical performance and acting, the stage becomes a place of healing and bonding between students.

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"I've always struggled with my body image," said Dyna Bresson, a senior who is playing the lead role of Tracy Turnblad. "Being able to [play] someone who sort of struggled with her body image, and then like, overcomes it... I'm like 'yeah, I can do this!'"

Ray says he discussed issues like name-calling, bullying and segregation with the students during rehearsal.

"Are girls okay with being called the things they are called?" Ray asked. "Like, no — you got to stand up for what's right. And you got to believe it's right and push that forward."

Mosesha Obas is a sophomore who is playing the role of Motormouth Maybelle. She says the role has taught her a lesson on inclusion.

"Obviously, racism is terrible," she said. "And I feel like, with this role, it makes people realize we're all the same, and no matter what skin color, how short or how tall you are, how big you are... it's based on how you feel comfortable in your body."

Whetstone Academy of Performing Arts will perform Hairspray Friday, Saturday and Sunday this weekend.

Click here for tickets.