DHT lands ‘Hairspray,’ so needs a guy in drag

March 20th, 2010
By

Edna Turnblad, the plus-sized mom, will grace the Diamond Head Theatre stage when “Hairspray” makes its Hawai’i debut during the 2010-2011 season. That means an actor will be in drag, in chunky bodysuit if needed, to recreate the role that Harvey Fierstein originated on the Broadway stage and John Travolta in the film version, to portray the beloved mother of Tracy Turnblad, the hefty teen fireball aching to dance on a ‘60s TV show.
DHT is the first community theater in the U.S. to secure rights to “Hairspray,” which will close the new season in June and July 2011.
“We’re thrilled to have acquired the rights for the first Honolulu production of ‘Hairspray,’” said John Rampage, DHT artistic director. “This season, we’ve really got something for everyone.”
Musicals abound, with the revival of “Crazy for You” and “The King & I,” along with the rock-concert powerhouse “Altar Boyz,” but comedy prevails in “Little Women” and “I Hate Hamlet.”
Here’s the outlook:
* “Crazy for You,” a musical by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, with book by Ken Ludwig, Sept. 24 through Oct. 10. Set at a New York theater, circa 1930s, the backstage theme involves Bobby Child, rich son of a banking family, aiming for an audition at the Zangler Theatre. He gets the tryout but doesn’t impress the impresario, and is sent to Nevada by his mom to foreclose a rundown theater. There are mistaken identities, plot twists and tap dance numbers, and a score of Gershwin evergreens, including “I Got Rhythm,” “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” “Embraceable You” and “Someone to Watch Over Me.”
* “Little Women,” with music by Jason Howland, lyrics by Mindi Dickstein and book by Allan Knee, based on Louisa May Alcott’s novel, Dec. 3 to 19. The adventures of Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy March, set to music against the Civil War, encompasses the theme of family bonding, with tears and laughter, as the teen girls become young women facing issues and challenges of adulthood.
* “I Hate Hamlet,” a play by Paul Rudnick, Jan. 28 to Feb. 13. Andrew Rally is a young, budding TV actor who relocates to New York, renting a Gothic apartment. He seems to have it all: acclaim from a hit TV series, a beautiful girlfriend, and the chance to portray “Hamlet” in Central Park. But he loses his TV show and he hates “Hamlet,” with a twist: the ghost of John Barrymore appears, intoxicated and costumed, and Rally’s life is no longer his.
* “The King & I,” the Rodgers & Hammerstein evergreen, March 25 through April 10. Miss Anna, a widow from England, arrives in Siam with her young son, at the Royal Palace in Bangkok in 1862, summoned by the King of Siam to serve as tutor to his many children. A confrontation of cultural values — he is considered barbaric — prevails as she weathers his tirades until they both understand each other. The rich score includes “Getting to Know You,” “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Shall We Dance,” and “Hello, Young Lovers.”
* “Altar Boyz,” an off-Broadway hit with book by Kevin Del Aguila and music and lyrics by Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker, May 20 to June 5. A struggling Christian boy band (with one Jewish member), with names like Matthew, Mark, Luke, Juan and Abraham, mixes pop with its gospel, in search of a big break in The Big Apple. More of a revivalist concert, with boy band rock-outs, choreographic moves and irreverent humor — and screaming is an option. Bring earplugs.
* “Hairspray,” a Tony Award-winning music with book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehanm, music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman. Set in Baltimore in 1962, and based on John Waters’ earlier film, “Hairspray” is the journey of Tracy Turnblad, a plus-sized teen with a passion for dancing, who wins a slot on a TV show. Her fortunes go south when she dances with her black friends — remember, this is ’62 — and her attempts to integrate the show draws the ire of the reigning princess and puts her mom Edna into motion, too. The score includes such hits as “You Can’t Stop the Beat.” Winner of eight 2003 Tonys, including Best Musical.
Showtimes: Premieres at 8 p.m. Fridays, repeating at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 3 p.m. Saturdays on the second and third weekends of the run, and 4 p.m. Sundays.
Season tickets: on sale June 7; prices are $210 (for Diamond Head Circle seats), $150, $105 and $54.
Individual seats: available Aug. 23.
Information: 733-0274 or www.diamondheadtheatre.com.

2 Responses to “DHT lands ‘Hairspray,’ so needs a guy in drag”

  1. zzzzzz:

    Why does Edna have to be played by a man in drag? When I saw the movie, I didn't see any reason why that role couldn't have been played by a woman. Travolta in that role seemed like a gimmick that didn't really add anything.


  2. Wayne Harada:

    To zzzzzz:
    That's the gimmick of the show -- a hefty guy, or one in plumpish body suit. I suppose Edna rightfully can be played by a woman.
    But some shows have gender-specifics: in "La Cage Aux Folles," a guy plays a gay guy who also impersonates a flashy woman, in drag; in "Victor/Victoria," a woman unable to find a job pretends to be a man playing a woman in a drag show.