Kingmanite basks in Hollywood lights

Alexa Russo stars in production of 'Hairspray'

Courtesy<br>
Clad in a pink cardigan and a beehive as big as her smile, former Kingman Academy of Learning student Alexa Russo takes center stage during a production of “Hairspray” by students at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.

Courtesy<br> Clad in a pink cardigan and a beehive as big as her smile, former Kingman Academy of Learning student Alexa Russo takes center stage during a production of “Hairspray” by students at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.

A Kingman transplant working toward her big break in Los Angeles got one step closer when she starred in the lead role for five sold out performances of "Hairspray" last weekend.

Alexa Russo was 14 when she was profiled in the Miner after being accepted into the prestigious Los Angeles County High School for the Arts on the campus of California State University. Alexa, who is wrapping up her junior year, has made good use of her time there and stole the starring role in the spring musical from the upperclassmen.

"Usually the leads go to seniors, so I couldn't believe it," she said.

Alexa beat out 100 others who auditioned for the role of "Tracy," the star of the show who becomes a celebrity when appearing on a television dance program.

Alexa had to spend a half hour getting her beehive wig set just right and another 45 minutes donning the foam fat suit that gave her Tracy's plump curves. The musical starts with Tracy on a bed in her room, and Alexa said that being on that bed just before the curtains came up was a surreal experience.

"I would just be shaking," she said.

The show ran for five sold-out performances, but if Alexa needed to calm her nerves, she needed only to look into the audience to see some familiar faces for support. Mom Michele Russo, who made the move to Los Angeles with Alexa, said 11 Kingmanites made the trip out to see the show, including Alexa's former Kingman Academy of Learning Principal Dawn Day and drama teacher Louanna Blackburn.

"It was such an amazing thing being on stage and looking out and seeing them," Alexa said.

Alexa got a lot of her musical talent from dad Joe, a musician who plays around Kingman, and said she enjoyed the role of Tracy because it allowed her to sing, dance and act all in one show. She loves musicals so much that she and her friends from the school are penning their own about two friends going through their senior years of high school. They performed one of the songs from their still unfinished production when they opened for a concert by "Glee" television star Darren Criss.

Alexa said she is too consumed with looking forward to her senior year of high school to think beyond graduation, though she intends to study musical theater in college.

"The past three years have taught me to enjoy every day in the moment and not look too far ahead but still be prepared," she said.

Although her theatrical personality fits right in with the Hollywood crowd, Alexa said she still misses the place she used to call home.

"I love the craziness out here, but I do miss the sunsets and being able to see the stars at night," she said. "And of course I miss all my friends there."