Big hair and big hearts are coming to the McPherson High School main stage as students will perform “Hairspray” Feb. 15-17.

The musical, set in the 1960s, embraces major changes in the world during the civil rights movement in Baltimore, as well as new genres of music and shorter hemlines.

“Students are learning some 1960’s style of dancing, a little more about the equal rights movement of the 1960's, as well as some history about Baltimore and beehive hair dues and clothing style. Most of all, we hope they are taking the story to heart and learning to accept all people no matter size, shape, sex, class or color,” said Greg McGlynn, director and theater teacher at McPherson High School.

The 2002 musical “Hairspray” follows plump teenager Tracy Turnblad in her dream to perform on a local TV dance program. She becomes a celebrity overnight, meets an array of colorful characters and leads a campaign for integration on the show. If the high-energy dance numbers choreographed by Kayla Sides aren’t enough to set toes tapping, the 1960s tunes will send audiences whistling all the way home.

“There are very period music styles represented in this show — everything from the very soulful/gospel styles to the ‘doo-wop’ styles of the 60’s. The students have learned the art of the “back-up ‘oo’ and ‘doo-wop’s’ and it actually made learning some of the music very easy because so many of the styles are similar,” said music director Nicholas Griggs. “There are several well-known tunes that will be recognizable to most of the audience members. I am excited to present a musical to this community that’s as familiar as this one. I’m also very excited to see the students embrace the characters they’ve been learning and developing. There are so many timeless characters represented in this show and our students are doing an incredible job pulling them off.”

McGlynn and Griggs chose to produce “Hairspray” to speak to current social issues, but also highlight the specific skill sets at McPherson High school.

“We always consider our students first — who they are, their natural skill sets — and we wanted to highlight what we had. This show gave us an opportunity to do just that for several of our upperclassmen,” Griggs said. “We were lucky enough to find the right students and are very excited for some new faces to step onto to the scene for this production.”

Performances will start at 7:30 p.m. on Feb 15, 16 and 17 at McPherson High School, 801 E. 1st St. in McPherson.

New this year, patrons can purchase tickets in advance online, which will prevent long lines at the box office before the show. Advance tickets can be purchased at http://mcphersonhs.booktix.com.

Contact Cheyenne Derksen Schroeder by email at cderksen@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter at @MacSentinel.