Walnut Street Beat: Homegrown Hairspray Opens in Philly Nov. 12

News   Walnut Street Beat: Homegrown Hairspray Opens in Philly Nov. 12
The Walnut Street Theatre's own production of the Broadway musical Hairspray opens Nov. 12 after previews from Nov. 4 in Philadelphia, with Michael Walker as Edna, Josh Young as Link Larkin and Amy Toporek as Tracy Turnblad.
Michael Walker and Amy Toporek
Michael Walker and Amy Toporek

Performances continue to Jan. 4, 2009.

The all-new Philadelphia run is a rare case of a resident theatre creating its own production of a show that is still playing on Broadway. The Tony Award-winning Broadway production will end Jan. 4, 2009. Harvey Fierstein, the original star, re-joined the New York cast on Nov. 11 for the final eight weeks.

Multiple Barrymore Award-winning director Charles Abbott — who has directed over 25 productions at Walnut — stages 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 musical set in 1962 Baltimore concerns a portly teen's wish to dance on a local TV show — and promote racial integration. 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.

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.

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