Hairspray, Broadway’s Tony Award-winning musical comedy phenomenon, will launch a new North American tour in Fall 2021. Initial principal casting was announced today; the cast will be led by Andrew Levitt aka Nina West (from “RuPaul’s Drag Race”)as Edna Turnblad, Niki Metcalf as Tracy Turnblad and Toneisha Harris (from NBC’s “The Voice”) as Motormouth Maybelle. Additional casting will be announced later.
The new touring production, which will be helmed by Jack O’Brien and Jerry Mitchell, will hold technical rehearsals and opening performances at The Capitol Theatre in Yakima, WA (November 12-13, 2021) prior to the official tour opening night of Wednesday, November 17, 2021, at Broadway San Diego’s Civic Theatre (November 16-21, 2021). Hairspray will visit more than 60 cities in its first touring season and is expected to play across North America for multiple seasons. Learn more about the new touring production at www.hairspraytour.com. Click here to view the current tour route.
“It’s a brand-new world we find ourselves in today, and Hairspray is meeting this challenge full-on with even more joy and purpose. Our fable of “The Little Dancing Engine That Could” is even more relevant than twenty years ago when it first burst onto the scene. With the renewed, refreshed energy of the unforgettable “Nina West” as Edna and a whole new generation of wildly talented kids across the board, we cannot wait to raise the various roofs once more with dance, joy, music, and that glorious, famous, energy-packed score! Come feel great and grateful once more!” shared Director Jack O’Brien.
Choreographer Jerry Mitchell added, “Hairspray has always been about all of us dancing together! I am thrilled to welcome this NEW company of amazing #FULLOUT talents to lead the way as we dance across America with a message of inclusion and hope because ‘You really Can’t Stop the Beat!’”
Hairspray is the story of 16-year-old Tracy Turnblad in 1960’s Baltimore as she sets out to dance her way onto TV’s most popular show. Can a girl with big dreams (and even bigger hair) change the world? Featuring the beloved score of hit songs including “Welcome to the 60’s,” “Good Morning Baltimore,” and “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” HAIRSPRAY is “fresh, winning, and deliriously tuneful!” (The New York Times).
This new touring production will reunite Broadway’s award-winning creative team, led by Director Jack O’Brien and Choreographer Jerry Mitchell, to bring Hairspray to a new generation of theater audiences. Hairspray is based on the New Line Cinema film written and directed by John Waters, who served as a creative consultant on the musical comedy. It features a book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan. HAIRSPRAY features an original score by Academy Award-nominated Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. The tour is produced by NETworks Presentations.
Additional creative team for Hairspray includes Tour Director Matt Lenz, Tour Choreographer Michelle Lynch, Set Designer David Rockwell, Lighting Designer Kenneth Posner, Tour Lighting Designer Paul Miller, Costume Designer William Ivey Long, Hair and Wig Designer Paul Huntley and Richard Mawbey, Sound Designer Steve Kennedy, Tour Sound Designer Andrew Keister, Music Supervisor Lon Hoyt and Casting by Stewart/Whitley.
Hairspray premiered at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theater in June 2002. The show was a smash hit when it transferred to Broadway, winning eight 2003 Tony Awards including Best Musical, and became the longest-running musical to play the Neil Simon Theater, running 2,642 performances from July 18, 2002, until January 4, 2009. It is the 22nd longest running show in Broadway history.
Andrew Levitt aka Nina West (Edna Turnblad) is a Columbus, OH, based actor, philanthropist, and singer/songwriter better known as drag queen Nina West. They are a former Entertainer of The Year who was named the most “Googled Drag Queen in The World” from 2020-2021 with over 7.8 billion unique searches. She rose to national prominence in 2019 with her appearance on Season 11 of VH1’s Emmy-winning show “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” where she placed sixth and won “Miss Congeniality.” In 2021 she returned to the show and was anointed “America’s Sweetheart” by RuPaul, herself. She made history at “The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards” in Sept 2019 when she became the first-ever person to walk the carpet in Full Drag, while her season won 5 Primetime Emmy Awards including Best Reality Competition Show.
On June 17th, 2020, Nina released a charity partnership with Country Music Legend, Dolly Parton – The “Dolly X Nina: Kindness is Queen’’ Collection – with all proceeds going to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and The Nina West Foundation to benefit LGBTQ+ youth and Illiteracy. It sold out in hours. She has also fronted major advertising campaigns for multinational companies Pepsi, Pantene, Lane Bryant, BOMBAS, and Procter and Gamble.
In 2021, she partnered with Nickelodeon and “Blue’s Clues” for a series of Pride videos that went viral with over 2 million views. On June 27th, 2021, Nina Hosted the First-Ever “Disney+ PRIDE Celebration Spectacular,” a celebration of the LGBTQ Community with Disney classics reinterpreted by LGBTQ artists like Hayley Kiyoko, Todrick Hall, and Alex Newell.
Nina is an LGBTQ+ advocate and philanthropist who has raised over $4 million for charitable causes in the last decade alone, through her charitable foundation The Nina West Foundation.
Niki Metcalf (Tracy Turnblad) is thrilled to be taking on a role she’s dreamed of playing since she first saw the original Broadway production! As a New York based actress from Saugerties, NY, and graduate of Montclair State University with a degree in Musical Theatre, some of her favorite credits include Little Red in The Little Engine that Could Earns Her Whistle (ArtsPower National Tour) and Olive in The 25th Annual…Bee. Beyond grateful to my friends and family for their constant support, and to the team for this incredible opportunity to “eat some breakfast then change the world!” www.nikimetcalf.com
Toneisha Harris (Motormouth Maybelle) Vocal singing sensation Toneisha Harris, the season 18 runner-up of NBC ‘s “The Voice,” made history as the highest placing African American woman to ever compete in the show, garnering praise from musical legend James Taylor, who compared her to Barbara Streisand and Aretha Franklin. Toneisha released her 2020 single “Forgive Me,” sang background vocals for Nick Jonas’ 2021 SNL appearance and released her original single “Let’s Change the World,” a song of hope, love, positivity and unification.
Toneisha grew up in a small town in Maryland, with her start as a performer and vocalist deeply rooted in gospel music. In 2007, she recorded a duet with Bishop Bruce Parham, then of Emtro Gospel. Their song, “Call Jesus,” reached the Top 3 on the national Billboard Gospel 100 charts. In 2011, Harris placed in the Top 20 contestants on season 4 of BET’s “Sunday Best,” a Gospel singing competition.
Toneisha has appeared in several stage plays and musical theatre productions, including the musical Avenue X that received multiple Philadelphia Barrymore Award nominations.
Just as the opportunity to audition for season 3 of “The Voice” presented itself, Toneisha’s son was diagnosed with leukemia and her whole world stopped. Toneisha returned to the stage after her son became cancer-free and traveled, singing background vocals for gospel artist Maranda Curtis. Harris was then asked to audition for season 18 of “The Voice,” where she earned a rare four-chair turn. During the finale, Toneisha shared an original song, “My Superhero,” written for her youngest son during his battle with leukemia, which reached #8 on iTunes.
Toneisha now resides in Atlanta, and her husband and two sons. When she isn’t singing or performing, you can find her cooking or writing. As a survivor of abuse, she strives to be a positive role model to other survivors, and she looks forward to using her expanding platform to offer messages of unity and positivity at a time of social turbulence and strife.