Community Access Unlimited to hold open auditions for “Hairspray, Jr.” in January

Holy moly, welcome to the ’60s! The CAU Community Players, an integrated theater troupe that brings together performers with and without developmental disabilities, is holding open auditions for an upcoming production of “Hairspray, Jr.” Auditions will be held January 22, 24 and 26, 2019.

Community Access Unlimited (CAU), a Union County-based human services agency, created the troupe in 2012 to create a space for people of all ages and abilities to perform and demonstrate their unique talents. The productions also allow individuals from the greater community to interact with people with disabilities and further the agency’s mission of community integration. CAU strives to integrate people with disabilities and at-risk youth into the general community through housing, vocational and life-skills training, education, advocacy, recreation and more.

The CAU Community Players stage a three-day production that draws hundreds of attendees each year. This year, the troupe chose “Hairspray, Jr,” the Tony Award-winning musical about one girl’s inspiring dream to dance and change the world, for its themes of overcoming adversity to achieve integration and equality.

Spunky, plus-size teen Tracy Turnblad has one big dream – to dance on the popular “Corny Collins Show.” She finally gets her shot and is transformed from social outcast to sudden star. Balancing her newfound power with her desire for justice, Tracy fights to dethrone the reigning Miss Teen Hairspray and integrate a TV network in the process. With the help of her outsized mom, Edna, and guest DJ, Motormouth Maybelle, the rhythm of Tracy’s new beat proves unstoppable.

The CAU Community Players select a play that is representative of the agency’s message of inclusion, acceptance and believing in oneself, as well as everyone’s worth regardless of their circumstances, according to troupe director Marguerite Modero.

“The message of this play is really important to me – embracing who you are and celebrating uniqueness,” Modero said. “The subplot about the racial discrimination that took place in the ’60s also fits our cause. Tracy and her mom also know what it’s like to be discriminated against due to their size. People with disabilities often are discriminated against, so this message resonates with our members and their families.”

Auditions are open to people of all ages and abilities.No registration or acting experience is required.

“We meet everybody where they start, and we grow from there,” Modero said. “I think new cast members will find this is one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives, to work together with others to produce something that is so heartwarming and has such an important message.”

For more information about the CAU Community Players visit and click on Recreation/CAU Community Players.

Audition schedule:

Tuesday, Jan. 22 – 6:30-8:00 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 24 – 6:30-8:00 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 26 – 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., with call backs 1:00-3:00 p.m.
Location: 80 West Grant Street, Elizabeth, NJ 07202

(above) Cast members of “Annie, Jr.” during one of last year’s performances.