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Volume XVII, Issue 11 - March 12 - March 18, 2009
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Acts of Everyday Grace

Melissa Wooldridge plays her part by donating up-dos

by Erin Woodhurst

Twenty-two hours, dozens of hair-ties, cases of hairspray, curl by curl, Melissa Wooldridge makes sure that every actor in the Southern Spotlights is ready to take the stage. Wooldridge is the bobby pin holding high school theater together in Southern Anne Arundel County.

Melissa Wooldridge loves locks. After a day of trimming tresses full-time, she styles high school actors at night.

Salon hairstyles cost from $25 to $60, but Wooldridge styles locks in every production — and trains apprentices — for no money and little applause.

“Hugs are the best form of payment,” says Wooldridge of the cast’s enthusiasm for her artistry.

A 1985 Southern High School alumnae, Wooldridge works at South Side Salon in Edgewater. She started styling for Southern High when her son, Dean Winter, performed in his first show.

Working full-time and juggling family life, Wooldridge doesn’t have much time to volunteer. But her son convinced her that his high school drama club was worth her time.

Winter graduated in 2008; he’s now a freshman studying theater at Florida’s Jacksonville University.

“Dean owes so much to the theater program at Southern High School,” Wooldridge says. “He would not be where he is now without them.”

With Winter gone, Wooldridge still has the acting bug.

“Kids were running down the aisles and jumping off the stage to greet me,” she says of her first appearance as stylist for Once Upon a Mattress, which opens this week. “It gives me goose bumps. Things like that are what make it all worth while.”

Even high school drama productions are feeling the strain of a bad economy. So Wooldridge’s free time is even more valuable to the Southern Spotlights.

Now that Dean cannot update Wooldridge on specifications for the shows, she rents the movies and researches online to create the right look.

Once she has a good visual grasp of the look, it’s time to shop. The Spotlights don’t worry about overspending their budget; Wooldridge buys all the supplies needed to create these styles.

“It is like my own personal donation to the production,” she says.

Once Upon a Mattress: March 12 thru March 14: 7pm @ Southern High School, Harwood. $5: 410-867-7100.
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