Tony-winning director Kenny Leon will give audiences an opportunity not to escape our political climate, but to process it through art and storytelling when Hairspray Live! airs on NBC on December 7. The 1960s-set musical centers on a fight for representation and social justice—a fight that persists in 2016.When asked at a press conference on November 16 why now is the time to present Hairspray, Leon responded, “Where were you last week? It’s actually a blessing to be in the throngs of this after [the presidential election]; it emphasized the role of artists in our world. It gave me an opportunity to talk to the company about the importance of what we do.”While Leon describes the show as a “feel-good musical about inclusion,” its call for justice is no less resonant. Motormouth Maybelle’s marching cry “I Know Where I’ve Been,” to be performed in the telecast by Jennifer Hudson, asserts, “There’s a dream in the future; there’s a struggle that we have yet to win” and “To sit still would be a sin.” The final anthem “You Can’t Stop the Beat” is a reminder that progress is both constant and vital.“We are aware of the Black Lives Matter protests. In subtle ways, you layer that in,” Leon explained in a press call in October. “Hairspray is still relevant because there are still places where people are not looked at equally. These historic stories give us an opportunity to say something about now.”As Leon explores ways to indicate a contemporary relevance in his presentation, the text speaks for itself in many cases. The director’s outlook mirrors the sentiment expressed in cautiously hopeful songs like “I Know Where I’ve Been.” “We haven’t dealt with our original sin of slavery,” says Leon. “Once we have dealt with that and our history adequately, we can look at our future in beautiful ways.” Kenny Leon on the set of ‘Hairspray Live!'(Photo: Alexander Goyco) View Comments
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August 15, 2002 Regular News Lopez wins public service award Lopez wins public service award Stetson University College of Law recently recognized St. Petersburg attorney Karen Lopez with the 2002 Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Public Service Award.As the first female president of the St. Petersburg Bar, Lopez played a major role in forming the Community Law Program, Inc., a local nonprofit organization that provides pro bono legal services to those who cannot afford an attorney. Lopez also received The Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award for the Sixth Circuit in 1992.Lopez works as a sole practitioner in personal injury law. She serves on the board of trustees for the Community Law Program and continues to be an active volunteer for the St. Petersburg Bar Association.“It amazes me that Karen will so freely give of her time to the Community Law Program while she meets the demands of her sole practitioner law practice and fulfills her family obligations,” said Community Law Program Executive Director Kelly Vaughn Rauch, who nominated Lopez for the award. “Her contributions really are extraordinary.”Stetson established the Smith Award in 1990 to recognize and honor individuals who have demonstrated exemplary achievements in public service.