AU grad takes a shine to "Hairspray"

Fri, 2011-02-11 08:05 -- univcomm
February 11, 2011

On a recent Thursday, Heike Baird was hired as a book editor for a publishing firm in Fishers.

The next day, the 22-year-old got word that she also landed a role in the Beef & Board’s production of Hairspray.

“At the time I didn’t know if I was going to be able to reconcile those two dates. How could I? I’d have to take nine days off for rehearsal,” said Baird, an Anderson native. She is the daughter of two Anderson University professors.

hairspray“Finally, I just asked my employer at Wiley (publishing) if I could have the time off. ... So I’m getting the time off to do this,” said Baird.

And she’ll have to leave her job every Wednesday for matinees.

“I’m going to scramble. Put down my reading glasses. Put down the books I’m working on, run over here, put on my wig and make-up and get ready for ‘Good Morning Baltimore’.”

[Photo: Heike Baird, standing fourth from left, poses with the cast of a 1960s TV show in the Beef & Boards production of Hairspray.]

Baird was exuberant Monday as she sat at Beef &Boards between rehearsals for Hairspray, which runs through March 27. The Tony Award-winning musical centers around the big-hearted, plump Tracy Trumblad as she blossoms from social outcast to celebrity by dancing on a 1960s TV show.

Like most of the supporting players, Baird takes on numerous parts with the most prominent as Brenda, who has to leave the TV show, giving Tracy her shot.

Baird — whose first name is pronounced ‘Hike-uh’ —performed as a child in Anderson University plays. She attended Highland High School, Liberty Christian and was then home-schooled. Enrolling at Anderson University at 17, she graduated last year with a bachelor’s degree in English.

She acknowledged, “I wasn’t cut out for high school. In high school, I got a D in Bible class and then in college, I was one of two students who graduated with a 4.0.”

(The other 4.0’er was Graham Brown, a business management major from Fort Wayne.)

Baird, who speaks German, Spanish, and Portuguese, has American-Brazilian dual citizenship since her mother was born in Brazil.

During her summers and Christmas breaks, she was a performer at Disney World for three years. At first her title was “character attendant,” escorting costumed Disney stars. She became a performer at the theme parks. She didn’t perform in theater at AU, choosing to focus on her studies.

Her debut at Beef & Boards comes quickly on the heels of her work with Anderson’s Mainstage Theatre. Last year, she performed in Cabaret and had a starring spot as Guinevere in Anderson director Rick Vale’s present day adaptation of Camelot. She hopes to return to Mainstage.

With her Church of God upbringing, she enjoys the message of tolerance behind Hairspray.

“It’s a special show. The content itself of being accepting of other people’s differences leads us to be accepting of one another within our community as a cast.

“It would seem wrong to be singing these songs about our world being beautiful if we didn’t treat each other that way backstage as well,” she said.

As she speaks, the Beef & Boards musicians start to tune up.

“I’ve got a good job and I’ve got a fun hobby that’s starting to pay off. It’s always been something that’s just been for fun and I love being in here."

— Scott L. Miley is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Story reposted with permission.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.