Arts and Culture / News

Student takes Arvada stage

DU student Faith Goins, right, is one of the Dynamites in the Arvada Center’s production of “Hairspray.” Photo: P Switzer

Some musical theater students at DU wait until after they graduate to look for their big break. Junior Faith Goins may have already found hers.

Goins, 20, was cast as a chorus member and as one of the Dynamites — the trio of female singers who narrate the show — in the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities’ production of the musical Hairspray. Opening June 21, the show is the Colorado-area premiere of the musical based on the 1988 John Waters movie about racial segregation on a Baltimore TV dance show.

“By the grace of God, they hired me and asked me to be a Dynamite and also part of the ensemble, so I’m running backstage to do quick changes and run right back on stage,” Goins says. “It’s hilarious, but it’s so much fun.”

Arvada Center director and producer Rod Lansberry says Goins’ “style and abilities made it an easy choice to cast her in Hairspray.”

“We had one of the largest turnouts ever for these auditions,” Lansberry says. “We also held auditions in L.A. and in New York City, so over three weeks we auditioned close to 800 actors. Even as a young and new performer, Faith remained at the top of our list.”

Raised in Aurora, Colo., where her parents are pastors at Jireh Advancing Kingdom Ministries, Goins has made a life out of singing, dancing and performing. She’s on the Denver Nuggets’ “D Town Squad,” which hypes up the crowd during home games; she teaches gospel and praise dance at local churches; and she came to DU to study musical theater. Her classwork, she says, only partially prepared her for the reality of a large-scale musical production like Hairspray.

“There’s no better way to learn than by actually doing it,” she says. “You can sit in class all day and you can learn the knowledge and the background, but once you get into it it’s so evident, like, ‘Oh, that just makes sense.’ I’ve grown so much by just being there and being around them and seeing, ‘OK, they stretch before they do certain things and they’re always vocally warmed up and they’re never late.’ You always have your stuff memorized; you don’t ever get the same note twice. If you want to get hired again you can’t be that person they don’t like to work with. You always have to be on top of your game.”

Goins says she didn’t expect a musical that is lighthearted in so many ways — the main character’s mother, Edna Turnblad, is played by a man in drag — to pack such an emotional wallop. She remembers an especially poignant rehearsal of the song “I Know Where I’ve Been,” a gospel number that looks toward a brighter future for the black characters in the play.

“We were literally on stage crying because the song talks about the struggles that we’ve all endured — not just black people but people in general — and how you have to know what the past is to know where you’re going in the future,” Goins says. “And there’s this one scene where the white cast is holding picket signs that say ‘This isn’t Negro Day, stay away,’ and we’re just getting chills on stage because it seems so realistic to us. When we were backstage the white guys were like, ‘That felt so wrong, that felt so weird,’ and I felt angry on stage.

“It really does hit home, especially knowing my parents and grandparents have endured that kind of hardship,” she says. “My grandmother marched with Martin Luther King, so this story is very close to home.”

Goins’ stage time won’t end when Hairspray comes to a close in mid-July. She plans to audition for the Arvada Center’s upcoming production of Ragtime, and she was just cast as Dorothy in a late-summer production of The Wiz at the new Dayton St. Theatre in Aurora.

“I didn’t realize that I could get paid for doing stuff that I loved until this year, but apparently they pay you for your talent, which is still amazing to me. [The rest of the Hairspray cast] is used to it,” Goins says. “I’m working on it.”

Hairspray runs through July 17. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 1 p.m. Wednesday, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities is at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd. Tickets are $49–$63. For more information, call 720-898-7200 or visit

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