skip to Main Content
Hairspray the Musical

Hairspray the Musical: Everything You Need to Know About This Iconic Show

Welcome to our guide on Hairspray the Musical. This guide will give you everything you need to know about this lively and fun musical that has won the hearts of audiences all over the world.

From its early days on stage, its successful journey to Broadway, to its film adaptations, we’ve got it all covered. We’ll talk about Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger dream, and how she dances her way onto her favourite TV show, the Corny Collins Show, and uses her new fame to fight for racial integration.

We’ll also meet the colourful cast of characters, from Tracy’s supportive parents, Edna and Wilbur Turnblad, to her best friend Penny Pingleton, and the antagonist Amber Von Tussle. And of course, we’ll enjoy the catchy and uplifting music that has had audiences dancing in their seats, including hit songs like Good Morning Baltimore and Welcome to the 60s.

So, whether you’re a long-time fan or new to the musical, this guide will help you understand and appreciate the timeless charm of Hairspray the Musical.

Key Takeaways

  • Hairspray the Musical: A lively show that tells the story of Tracy Turnblad, a girl with big dreams, who uses her fame to fight for racial integration.
  • Broadway Success: The musical made its Broadway debut in 2002 and won eight Tony Awards in 2003, making it one of the longest-running Broadway shows.
  • Film Adaptations: Hairspray’s journey from stage to screen has helped it reach a wider audience, with the 2007 film adaptation bringing the story to a new generation.

hairspray the musical

The Plot of Hairspray the Musical

Set in the 1960s in Baltimore, Hairspray the Musical tells the story of Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger dream. Tracy’s dream is to dance on the Corny Collins Show, a popular local TV dance show. Despite facing obstacles due to her size and the racial segregation of the time, Tracy is determined to make her dream come true.

Along her journey, Tracy encounters a host of colourful characters. Her best friend Penny Pingleton, her supportive parents Edna and Wilbur Turnblad, and the antagonist Amber Von Tussle all play significant roles in her story. The musical, directed by Jack O’Brien, features hit songs like Good Morning Baltimore, Welcome to the 60s, and You Can’t Stop the Beat.

These songs, along with the energetic dance numbers and the uplifting message of the musical, have ensured that Hairspray the Musical remains a favourite for a new generation of theatre-goers. The musical’s journey from its early days on stage, its successful run on Broadway, to its film adaptations, is a testament to its enduring appeal.

hairspray the musical

Hairspray’s Journey to Broadway

After its initial success as a film, Hairspray was adapted into a musical and made its Broadway debut in 2002. The musical quickly became a hit, thanks to its energetic dance numbers, catchy songs, and the heart-warming story of Tracy Turnblad.

Under the direction of Jack O’Brien, the musical brought the 1960s to life on stage. The story of Tracy, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger dream, resonated with audiences. Her journey from an ordinary high school student to a star on the Corny Collins Show and her fight for racial integration was both entertaining and inspiring.

The musical also introduced audiences to a host of colourful characters. From Tracy’s parents, Edna and Wilbur Turnblad, to her best friend Penny Pingleton, and the antagonist Amber Von Tussle, each character added a unique flavour to the story.

Hairspray the Musical was not just a commercial success; it also received critical acclaim. It won eight Tony Awards in 2003, including Best Musical, and ran for over 2,500 performances, making it one of the longest-running Broadway shows.

The success of Hairspray on Broadway led to several national tours and international productions, bringing the story of Tracy Turnblad and her dream to audiences around the world. The musical’s journey from film to Broadway is a testament to its enduring appeal and its ability to resonate with a new generation of theatre-goers.

hairspray the musical

Characters of Hairspray the Musical

Tracy Turnblad: Tracy is the heart of the musical. She’s a big girl with big hair and an even bigger dream. Despite facing obstacles due to her size, she never lets it deter her from pursuing her dream of dancing on the Corny Collins Show. Her determination and positive attitude make her an inspiring character.

Edna Turnblad: Edna, Tracy’s mother, is initially hesitant about Tracy’s dreams but eventually becomes one of her biggest supporters. Her transformation throughout the musical, both in terms of her outlook and her appearance, adds a layer of depth to her character.

Wilbur Turnblad: Wilbur, Tracy’s father, is a constant source of support for Tracy. His quirky personality and unwavering belief in his daughter’s dreams add a touch of warmth and humour to the musical.

Penny Pingleton: Penny is Tracy’s best friend and is always by her side. Despite her naïve nature, she is loyal and supportive. Her relationship with Seaweed adds another dimension to her character and the story.

Amber Von Tussle: Amber is the reigning queen of the Corny Collins Show and sees Tracy as a threat. Her character represents the prejudices of the time and adds conflict to the story.

Seaweed J. Stubbs: Seaweed is a talented dancer who befriends Tracy. His character highlights the racial issues of the time and his relationship with Penny adds a subplot to the musical.

Motormouth Maybelle: Maybelle is the host of the monthly “Negro Day” on the Corny Collins Show. Her character represents the fight for racial integration and she becomes an important ally for Tracy.

Link Larkin: Link is a heartthrob and one of the lead dancers on the Corny Collins Show. He becomes Tracy’s love interest and supports her fight for racial integration.

Velma Von Tussle: Velma is Amber’s mother and the producer of the Corny Collins Show. She is the main antagonist and does everything in her power to keep Tracy off the show and maintain the status quo.

Little Inez: Little Inez is Seaweed’s younger sister who also dreams of dancing on the Corny Collins Show. Despite being initially rejected due to her race, she remains hopeful and resilient.

These characters, each with their unique traits and storylines, contribute to the charm and appeal of Hairspray the Musical. Their interactions and the situations they find themselves in form the heart of this beloved musical.

miss baltimore crabs

Film Adaptations of Hairspray the Musical

Hairspray’s journey is a unique one. It began as a film in 1988, directed by John Waters. This film was the spark that led to the creation of Hairspray the Musical. The musical was a big hit and this success led to a new film adaptation in 2007.

The 2007 film version of Hairspray the Musical helped bring the story and characters to more people. The film had big stars like John Travolta as Edna Turnblad and Zac Efron as Link Larkin and was a big success at the box office. It brought the story of Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger dream, to a new generation.

The film kept the spirit of the musical, with all the hit songs and dance numbers that made the musical a hit. It also kept the musical’s message of racial integration and acceptance.

The film versions of Hairspray have helped make it a well-loved musical. They make sure that the story of Tracy Turnblad continues to inspire and entertain people all over the world. The lasting appeal of Hairspray the Musical shows in its timeless story, memorable music, and important message.

hairspray the musical cast

The Music of Hairspray the Musical

The music of Hairspray the Musical is one of its most memorable aspects. The songs are catchy, energetic, and carry the story forward. They provide a glimpse into the era in which the story is set and contribute significantly to the storytelling and character development.

The music for Hairspray was composed by Marc Shaiman, who also co-wrote the lyrics with Scott Wittman. Their work resulted in a number of hit songs that have become synonymous with the show. These include Good Morning Baltimore, Welcome to the 60s, and You Can’t Stop the Beat.

Each song in the musical not only entertains but also carries the musical’s message of acceptance and integration. For instance, Good Morning Baltimore introduces us to Tracy’s optimism and dreams. Welcome to the 60s marks a turning point in the story, symbolizing change and progress. And You Can’t Stop the Beat, the finale, is a celebration of unity and acceptance.

The music of Hairspray, with its catchy tunes and meaningful lyrics, plays a crucial role in making the musical a favourite among audiences of all ages. It’s a testament to the talent and creativity of Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, whose work continues to entertain and inspire a new generation of theatre-goers.

wilbur turnblad and the cast of Hairspray the Musical

Final Thoughts

Hairspray the Musical continues to captivate audiences with its vibrant characters, catchy music, and uplifting message of acceptance and integration. From its early days on stage to its journey to Broadway, film adaptations, and beyond, the musical has left an indelible mark on the world of theatre.

The story of Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger dream, resonates with audiences of all ages. The musical’s timeless appeal and relevance of its themes make it a classic that continues to entertain and inspire.

For those who want to catch the show, Hairspray the Musical starts its UK tour in July 2024. A new generation of theatre-goers will have the opportunity to experience this beloved musical. Whether you’re a long-time fan or new to the musical, Hairspray the Musical promises an unforgettable experience filled with laughter, music, and dance.

Holly Smith

I Love Musical Theatre and made the Theatre Queen Blog To Share My Experiences, Reviews & Theatre News.