HAIRSPRAY is an American musical with music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman and a book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan. 


In 1962 BaltimoreMaryland, plump teenager Tracy Turnblad's dream is to dance on The Corny Collins Show, a local TV dance program based on the real-life Buddy Deane Show. When Tracy wins a role on the show, she becomes a celebrity overnight, and meets a colorful array of characters. She then launches a campaign to integrate the show. The songs include 1960s-style dance music and "downtown" rhythm and blues.

The musical is based on the 1988 John Waters film "Hairspray."

The musical's original Broadway production opened on August 15, 2002. 




Character Breakdown


Our story's unsuspecting protagonist, she is large and in charge. Confident, talented, and incredibly determined. A romantic with a good heart and desire to cut up the dance floor. Always on top of the latest trends.  Tracy Turnblad is a young lady with big hair and an even bigger personality! She is the hero of our story and she is sweet but also strong in her convictions. She is bigger in size than the other girls, but she isn't shy about it - she can still dance with the best of them! Requires an excellent singer, dancer and actor, but most importantly, a young lady who has wonderful stage presence and can easily capture the audience's hearts. Tracy will be played by a white actress.

Gender: Female

Character Age: 15 to 20

Vocal range top: G5

Vocal range bottom: G3


Edna Turnblad is Tracy's big and blonde, loving mother who doesn't spend much time outside the house. She works days and nights as a laundress in her home, and her lack of social interaction has made her a bundle of nerves. She has lost her confidence and dream to be a plus-size clothing designer. Boisterous and commanding.

We prefer this role to be played by a white make actor in drag, but this could also be fantastic role for a young white lady with great acting chops who can transform into an older character. Edna should be a proficient singer and be willing to sell it with strong character choices.

Gender: Male/Female

Character Age: 30 to 50

Vocal range top: G5

Vocal range bottom: F3


Edna's simpleminded and loving husband and Tracy's supportive, kind father who just wants the best for his girls. He owns a joke shop. He also loves his wife, Edna, very much.  This is a good role for a new performer. The actor playing Wilbur should complement Edna.  Wilbur should be played by a white actor.

Gender: Male

Character Age: 55 to 65

Vocal range top: A5

Vocal range bottom: A3


Tracy's best friend and fun, dorky sidekick. Not the brightest girl, but she has good intentions. She is a young lady caught between her mother's very strict rules and her own wants and desires to be just another teenage girl. Bursting to get free of her mother's dominating control, she falls for Seaweed with childlike curiosity.  This is a good role for an actress with a sweet voice and great comedic instincts. Penny should be played by a white actress.

Gender: Female

Character Age: 15 to 20

Vocal range top: G5

Vocal range bottom: A3


Penny's eccentric and loving mother. Very conservative, controlling, and closed minded, she wants the best for her daughter but is extreme in her means. Prudy Pingleton is a fun role for a performer who can really jump headfirst into a character role.  Prudy should be a good actress, capable of capturing the conflict of being a caring mother who can't help but be overprotective. Prudy should be played by a white actress.

Gender: Female

Character Age: 40 to 50

Vocal range top: B4

Vocal range bottom: D4


Link Larkin is Baltimore's biggest heartthrob, and Tracy's dream guy.  He is extremely attractive and talented. Hoping to get his big break with a recording contract, he unexpectedly falls for Tracy. Link is considered the best performer in town, so we are looking for a young man who is a triple threat - a great actor, singer and dancer. He should have a lot of charisma and a sparkle in his eye. Think of any teenage idol who is able to reduce girls to tears - there's your guy! Link should be played by a white actor.

Gender: Male

Character Age: 15 to 20

Vocal range top: A5

Vocal range bottom: G3


Corny Collins, the host of "The Corny Collins Show," is a Baltimore celebrity. Foremost, Corny is a charmer, so this role will be played by an experienced singer and actor with great energy and who is unafraid of being in the center spotlight. Corny should be played by a white actor/actress, and can be made into a female character (if needed).  

Gender: Male

Character Age: 25 to 35

Vocal range top: A4

Vocal range bottom: D3


Link's girlfriend and Tracy's nemesis, Amber Vontussle is a prom queen nightmare!  She is pretty, thin, shallow, snobby, and racist. She is definitely "The Corny Collins Show" favorite, but she is competitive and has a bad attitude. Can't dance but is expected to win Miss Baltimore Hairspray. Always feels the need to be the center of attention.  Amber is a great performer and should be played by a white actress.

Gender: Female

Character Age: 15 to 20

Vocal range top: F5

Vocal range bottom: A3


Velma Von Tussle is a carbon copy of Amber - just twenty years older and meaner!  She is the director of Corny Collin's show. She is a devious taskmaster and snobby racist. The former Miss Baltimore Crabs will go to any length to ensure her daughter wins Miss Teenage Baltimore.  We will cast a white actress who is unafraid of being a little bit evil and who can make bold acting choices.

Gender: Female

Character Age: 45 to 55

Vocal range top: E5

Vocal range bottom: G3


Tracy's classmate and friend, who is discriminated against due to his skin color. He is cocky but surprisingly lovable. 

He is the object of Penny's affections, and together, they are determined to defy the segregation laws of the 1960s. Seaweed can do it all! This is a great role for an experienced young black performer who can sing, dance and act well.

Gender: Male

Age: 15 to 20

Vocal range top: D5

Vocal range bottom: F3


Little Inez Stubbs is Seaweed's little sister and a great breakout role for a black actress. Little Inez gets her moment in the spotlight, so we need a young lady who is a great singer and dancer. Someone with a quiet exterior who can and will be bold when the opportunity comes.


Seaweed and Little Inez's mother, she also appears as the Guest DJ on the Corny Collin's Negro Day show. Big, blonde, beautiful and proud of it. She is sassy and confident.

Motormouth Maybelle is a soulful part for a black performer who can play an older age. In this story, she is the face of the Civil Rights Movement and sings the beautiful anthem, "I Know Where I've Been." We need a performer with a great voice and more importantly, someone who has strong stage presence.

Gender: Female

Character Age: 40 to 50

Vocal range top: E5

Vocal range bottom: F3


The Dynamites (Judine, Kamilah and Shayna) are a dynamic musical trio, iconic of the Motown era and the 1960s. Think the Supremes. Need three young women who are singers and dancers who complement each other. They don't need to look alike, but a group that can be synchronous in their music and dance.

Gender: Female

Vocal range top: A5

Vocal range bottom: E4



Mr. Pinky owns a ladies' clothing shop and is a salesperson inside and out - he is always the first to give a compliment. This is a perfect character role for a young person who may be new to the stage but has wonderful energy and acting potential.

Gender: Male


Brad, Tammy, Fender, Sketch, Shelley, IQ, Brenda and Lou Ann are the famed teenage performers on "The Corny Collins Show." This is a great opportunity to feature your best singers and dancers, as they'll have to emulate some of the most famous dance moves from the 1960s. Find kids with a lot of personality, and encourage them to be bold in their characterizations of each teenage performer.

Gender: Both​


Corny Collins' Kids (Tammy, Brad, Brenda, Sketch, Shelley, Etc.); Students; Protestors

Other standout ensemble roles include:Gym Teacher, Cindy Watkins, Matron, Principal, Lorraine, Gilbert, Thad, Duane, Stooie, Beatnik Chick, Male Guard, Guard, Newscaster and Council Members. These roles give more texture to the lively world of 1960s Baltimore. This is truly a story about communities intersecting, so be sure to remind all of your actors that each role matters.

Gender: Both






According to interviews included as an extra feature on the 2007 film's DVD release, theatre producer Margo Lion first conceived of Hairspray as a stage musical in 1998 after seeing a television broadcast of the original film. "I was home looking at a lot of movies, and one of those movies was Hairspray." She contacted John Waters, who gave her his blessing, then acquired the rights from New Line Cinema. Lion contacted Marc Shaiman, who expressed interest in the project only if his partner Scott Wittman could participate, and Lion agreed. The two submitted three songs, one of which, "Good Morning Baltimore," eventually became the show's opening number.



After a successful tryout at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre, Hairspray opened on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre on August 15, 2002. Jack O'Brien directed the production, which Jerry Mitchell choreographed, with set design by David Rockwell, costume design by William Ivey Long, lighting design by Kenneth Posner, sound design by Steve C. Kennedy, and the many distinctive wigs in the show by Paul Huntley. The original Broadway cast included Marissa Jaret Winokur and Harvey Fierstein in the lead roles of Tracy and Edna respectively. The cast also featured Matthew Morrison as Link, Laura Bell Bundy as Amber, Kerry Butler as Penny, Linda Hart as Velma, Mary Bond Davis as Motormouth Maybelle, Corey Reynolds as Seaweed, Jackie Hoffman as Matron, Dick Latessa as Wilbur, and Clarke Thorell as Corny Collins. Kamilah Marshall, Shayna Steele, and Judine Richard played the Dynamites.

Hairspray received Tony Award nominations in 12 categories, winning eight, including for best musical, book, score and direction. Winokur, Fierstein and Latessa received awards for their performances. The production ran for more than six years, closing on January 4, 2009 after 2,642 performances.  Thorell returned to the cast for the final ten months. Fierstein and Winokur returned to the cast for the final performances.

A film version was released in July 2007. The film was directed and choreographed by Adam Shankman and starred John Travolta as Edna Turnblad, Christopher Walken as Wilbur Turnblad, Queen Latifah as Maybelle, Michelle Pfeiffer as Velma Von Tussle, James Marsden as Corny Collins, and Nikki Blonsky as Tracy Turnblad. Hugh Jackman and Joey McIntyrewere both considered to play the role of Corny Collins, but lost to Jackman's X-Men co-star Marsden. NBC's Hairspray Live!, directed by Kenny Leon and Alex Rudzinski, aired in December 2016 to mostly positive reviews.

Hairspray the live musical was produced by NBC, and was broadcast on December 7, 2016.  Newcomer Maddie Baillio was chosen to play Tracy Turnblad.  Jennifer Hudsonand Harvey Fierstein starred as Motormouth Maybelle and Edna Turnblad, respectively. Martin Short portrayed Wilbur Turnblad and Derek Hough played Corny Collins.[46] Kristin Chenoweth starred as Velma Von Tussle, and Ariana Grande played the role of Penny Pingleton.  The roles of Amber Von Tussle and Link Larkin were played by Dove Cameron and Garrett Clayton. Sean Hayes portrayed Mr. Pinky, and Rosie O’Donnell played the gym teacher.


  • All Broadway actresses playing Tracy, regardless of size, wear a fat suit to give them the desired “Tracy” shape.

  • Hairspray uses more than 150 wigs.

  • All of the mothers in the mother-daughter day riot scene, with the exception of Motormouth and Edna are played by the ensemble boys.

  • The “for me” line sung by Edna is one of several references to the musical Gypsy written into Hairspray. “I’m a pretty girl mama” is a direct quote from Gypsy.

  • The line “Manipulating the judicial system just to win a contest is un-American” is a reference to the recent George Bush election scandal which included improperly counted votes and votes from the dead.

  • In the original Broadway production, a few of the actors mimed on musical instruments in order to fulfil a minimum musician requirement at the Neil Simon Theatre.


Other Resources


We highly recommend that you watch the entire show.  You can watch both movie versions and the Live television broadcast, (all rated PG), but we also recommend you check out a stage production.   Here is a production on Youtube we feel was done well. 

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