The all-new production in Philadelphia is a rare case of a resident theatre creating its own production of a show that is still playing on Broadway. Producers of the Broadway production recently announced that Jan. 18, 2009, is the likely closing date for Hairspray in New York City.
The musical set in 1962 Baltimore concerns a portly teen's wish to dance on a local TV show — and promote integration. Opening night is Nov. 12.
According to WST notes, "Baltimore in 1962 is a town on the verge of some big changes. Tracy Turnblad (Amy Toporek) has only one passion — to dance on the Corny Collins Show. Her mother, Edna (Michael Walker), forbids Tracy to audition for the show. Going against her big (hearted) mother's wishes, she sneaks out and wins a spot on the program, and is transformed from an outsider to a teen celebrity overnight!"
Based on the John Waters non-musical film, Hairspray features a book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan. The score is by Marc Shaiman (music and lyrics) and Scott Wittman (lyrics). Hairspray won eight 2003 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Original Score. In 2007 a popular film version of the musical was released nationwide.
Multiple Barrymore Award-winning director Charles Abbott — who has directed over 25 productions at Walnut — will stage the musical. He's joined by choreographer Mary Jane Houdina and music/vocal director Douglass G. Lutz, scenic designer Robert Andrew Kovach, lighting designer Paul Black, costume designer Coleen Grady and sound designer Ryk Lewis. The cast of Hairspray also includes Sean Bell, Kennen Butler, Nikki Curmaci, Ben Dibble (as Corny Collins), Kate Fahrner (as Amber Van Tussle), Brian Golub, Joilet Harris (as Motormouth Maybelle), Danielle Herbert, Joe Jackson, Regan Kays, John-Charles Kelly, Marisa Kennedy, Liz Kimball (as Penny Pingleton), Kalia Lynne, Stanley Martin, Domonique Paton, Devin L. Roberts, Kerri Rose, Peter Schmitz (as Wilbur Turnblad), Connie Shafer, Crystal Sha'nae, Alex Michael Stoll, Amy Toporek (as Tracy Turnblad), Neil Totton (Seaweed J. Stubbs), Beth Wheeler and Denise Whelan (Velma Van Tussle).
Walnut Street Theatre is located at 825 Walnut Street. For tickets and information, call (215) 574-3550 or (215) 336-1234. Tickets are also available online at www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.com.