Melbourne wins Hairspray premiere

Melbourne has confirmed itself as the theatre centre of Australia after the city secured yet another major musical premiere.

It has been confirmed that Hairspray – one of the most popular musicals of the last decade on Broadway – will open at the Princess Theatre in October 2010.

It is another blow to Sydney’s fumbling musical scene which is failing to secure big premieres of shows.

After Wicked premiered in Melbourne in 2008, an influx of big musicals chose the city to start their Australian runs, including Jersey Boysand the upcoming blockbusters Mary Poppins and Rock Of Ages.

Hairspray will be produced by Paul Dainty and Joel Pearlman.

Hairspray is the ultimate feel good musical which has extraordinary international pedigree and success,” Dainty said.

“We are very excited and delighted to be re-creating the international success in Melbourne, with a first class Australian creative team who will incorporate new state-of-the-art technologies, direction, choreography and design.”

Having won over 30 awards – including the 2003 Best Musical Tony Award – the show takes audiences to 1960s Baltimore. The 50’s are out and change is in the air. Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, has only one passion – to dance. She wins a spot on a local television program, and becomes an overnight celebrity.

Pearlman said the audition process for the show would be extensive.

“We are about to commence one of the biggest casting searches ever undertaken throughout Australia for a theatrical production,” he said.

“The search is on to find our Tracy Turnblad, who most probably will be an known performer and is likely to be found in the same way that Nikki Blonsky was found.”

Blonsky starred in the 2007 film version of Hairspray and before securing the role spent her days scooping ice cream in new York.

Dainty and Pearlman have announced that David Atkins will direct the Australian production, whilst Jason Coleman will choreograph the show.

Tickets will go on sale in May.

With Hairspray going to Melbourne first, Sydney is again left feeling the pain of its theatrical losses. Some producers have called for a new commercial theatre to be built, whilst others in the industry say the events department of the Victorian Government is easily accounting for Sydney’s version.

Hairspray first opened on Broadway in July 2002, and played for a fabulous six and a half years until January 2009. There are several productions around the world, including Canadia, Helsinki, Tokyo, Osaka, Korea, South Africa and London.

The stage musical is based upon the original 1988 New Line Cinema film written and directed by John Waters.

Producers will be hoping that the success of the recent new film version, which starred John Travolta, will assist in boosting ticket sales for the upcoming Australian production.

The film was seen by one in 10 Australians and the subsequent DVD release has achieved multi-platinum sales.

In other news, there is continued speculation that an Australian production of Legally Blonde will be mounted in early 2011.

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