The show was to open in six hours, but there was no one to play the lead. The student playing the role of Tracy Turnblad in the Flagler Palm Coast High School production of “Hairspray” was unable to fulfill the role, and a senior, Caitlin Eriser, who was acting as assistant stage manager for the production was called in to take over the lead at the last minute.
“When they first asked me, it was kind of surreal,” Eriser said while sitting in the black box the Tuesday after the show closed. “This all didn’t really even hit me until after it was over, because I’ve been in the middle of my IB exams. At this point, I thought I could do anything.”
Eriser is no stranger to the stage. She is FPC’s first IB theater student and has performed with the FPC thespians as well as on stage at the City Repertory Theatre and the Flagler Playhouse. She was also in chorus of the Flagler Playhouse performance of “Hairspray” in 2001, when her teacher, Kelly Nelson Rivera, played Tracy.
Her knowledge of the show from then and from staging as the assistant stage manager helped her to learn the role of Tracy so quickly. “It’s one thing to see a show backstage and then another thing to be on
stage,” Eriser said. “But I want to stress how supportive everyone was when the change occurred.”
Although the student actors didn’t have to be there until 5 p.m. Thursday, they all stayed after school to help Eriser learn the part. “The amount of support was unparalleled to any show I’ve been in,” she said.
But Eriser couldn’t completely let go of the back-stage role either. Jacob Koch, who played the role of Link Larkin, said that in between scenes on stage, Eriser could be found backstage, making sure everything was on cue.
“She’s just so cool,” he said, adding that the Thursday show had more improvisation, but that by Friday, the show was perfect.
“Everyone responded in a very professional manner,” said FPC Principal Lynette Shott. “I think that’s a testament to the program.”