Hairspray is set to open in Melbourne next month, with the producers announcing today that it will tour to Adelaide’s Festival Theatre at the end of the year and Sydney in early 2023.

Director Jack O’Brien and choreographer Jerry Mitchell also led the creative team for the original Broadway production, which opened in 2002 and won eight Tony Awards (a West End production five years later was nominated for 11 Olivier Awards).

The musical was adapted from John Waters’ cult 1988 film Hairspray – starring Sonny Bono, Divine, Debbie Harry, Jerry Stiller and Ricki Lake ­– and it, in turn, was adapted in 2007 as a film featuring John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken and Zac Efron.

The story centres on Tracy Turnblad, a “plump” teenager in 1960s Baltimore who dreams of dancing on popular television program The Corny Collins Show. When she achieves her wish, she uses her newfound stardom to support a push for integration on the racially segregated show.

“I am delighted that the original Broadway version of Hairspray will be heading to Adelaide and Sydney,” producer John Frost said in a statement. “The characters in Hairspray are iconic and loved worldwide, and the team have assembled an unbelievably talented and hilarious all-star cast for one of my most beloved musicals.”

The Australian cast includes Todd McKenney (Wilbur Turnblad), Rhonda Burchmore (Velma Von Tussle), Rob Mills (Corny Collins) and Asabi Goodman (Motormouth Maybelle).

Sydney-based Carmel Rodrigues, a relative newcomer to the national stage, plays Tracy, while Shane Jacobson ­(best-known for the mockumentary film Kenny) plays her mum, agoraphobic housewife Edna. The role of Edna was written for a man and was first played by Divine (in the Waters’ film), followed by Harvey Fierstein (in the original Broadway production) and then Travolta.

While Jacobson can’t wait to “hit the boards in heels”, he said in an interview on Channel 10 when the production was first announced that what he particularly loves about his character is that she’s a loving mother. “My job is not to have people look at me and go, ‘There’s Shane Jacobson in a dress on stage’, I want them to see me as a loving mother because Tracy… I’d love to think she gets her confidence, as so many kids do, by having a loving mother and father at home.”

After COVID-19 put a stop to touring musicals for a couple of years, 2022 has brought a string of new productions to Adelaide, including Frozen the Musical (currently playing at the Festival Theatre) and Six the Musical. Also scheduled for later this year are Cruel Intentions: the ’90s Musical (at Her Majesty’s Theatre from September 8) and Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 the Musical (at the Festival Theatre from October 9).

A waitlist for tickets for the Adelaide season of Hairspray will be open from 8.30am on July 22 on the production’s official website. New tickets for 9 to 5 the Musical will also be released next week (pre-sale from July 25 and general release from July 29).

Make a comment View comment guidelines

Support local arts journalism

Your support will help us continue the important work of InReview in publishing free professional journalism that celebrates, interrogates and amplifies arts and culture in South Australia.

Donate Here