You can't stop the beat in this big and bold musical about one girl's inspiring dream to dance.
Available to groups performing in venues with a capacity of less than 500. Geographical restrictions may apply due to professional activity.
Show Essentials
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Full Synopsis

Act One

It's 7am on a Monday morning in Baltimore, 1962. Tracy Turnblad, a pleasantly plump teenager reflects on how much she loves her city and she loves to dance. She dreams of being a star ("Good Morning Baltimore").

Later that day, Tracy and her friend Penny rush home from high school to catch the latest episode of The Corny Collins Show, a teenage dance TV show ("The Nicest Kids in Town"). Meanwhile, Tracy's mom, Edna, is ironing her neighbors' laundry to earn extra money. Penny's mom, Prudy, arrives to pick up her laundry from Edna. Prudy objects to the girls watching "colored music" performed on the show.

The action shifts to the TV studio were the The Corny Collins Show broadcast has just gone to commercial break. Hunky teen idol Link offers his Council Member ring to vapid teen queen dancer Amber (whose overbearing mother, Velma, is the show's producer).

When the show returns from the break, Corny Collins announces an upcoming live prime-time special, where talent scouts will be on-hand and an election to crown Miss Teenage Hairspray will be held. Tracy, watching the show, is mortified to see that Amber is wearing Link's ring. Corny further announces that they're auditioning a new female dancer for the show. Tracy pleads with her mother to let her audition. Tracy's father, Wilbur, arrives home from work at his novelty gag and joke shop. Edna fears that Tracy will be ridiculed at the auditions, but Wilbur encourages Tracy. Meanwhile, Prudy berates Penny for listening to "race music" as Velma criticizes Amber on her poor dancing. All three girls argue with their mothers ("I'm a Big Girl Now").

Tracy ultimately does attend the auditions, where she literally bumps into Link, initiating a romantic dream sequence ("I Can Hear Bells"), which is interrupted when Tracy is called upon to audition. Velma rejects her due to her weight and because Tracy states that she's in favor of racial integration ("Miss Baltimore Crabs").

The following day at school, Tracy is sent to detention because her monumentally teased hair is blocking other students' view of the blackboard. In the detention hall, an African-American boy named Seaweed teaches Tracy some dance moves.

Soon afterwards, Corny Collins is the guest DJ at the school's sophomore hop ("The Madison"). Corny and Link are immediately impressed by Tracy's dance moves.

The next episode of The Corny Collins Show features a new cast member - Tracy ("The Nicest Kids in Town - Reprise"). During an interview with Corny, Tracy again comes out in favor of racial integration, impressing Corny but horrifying Velma. Amber grows increasingly jealous of the attention Tracy is getting, and, to compound the situation, Corny invites Link to sing a song to Tracy ("It Takes Two"). Tracy and Link kiss at the conclusion of the song.

Post-show, an argument breaks out between Corny, Velma and Mr. Spitzer, who represents the show's sponsor, Ultra Clutch hairspray. Spitzer objects to the casting of Tracy, whom he describes as "that chubby communist". Corny informs them that he plans to introduce lots of changes to the show, so that the kids in the cast will more accurately reflect the kids in the audience. Corny threatens to take the show to another network if Velma interferes. After he departs, a seething Velma decides to ruin Tracy ("Velma's Revenge").

At the Turnblad apartment, Edna fields calls from Tracy's burgeoning fan base. When Tracy gets a call inviting her to become the spokesperson for plus-size clothing outfitter Mr. Pinky, she asks Edna to represent her as her agent. Edna protests that she hasn't even left the apartment in years, but Tracy insists and Edna receives an elaborate makeover ("Welcome to the 60s").

Tracy's popularity is skyrocketing at school. Amber spreads mean-spirited rumors about her. The students assemble in gym class for a game of dodgeball. Penny and Seaweed meet and immediately hit it off. A violent game of dodgeball ensues, ending with Amber snapping the ball into Tracy's head, knocking her cold. Link reprimands Amber and goes to Tracy's aid. Tracy introduces Link to Seaweed and Penny. Seaweed invites them all to a party at his mom's record shop. When Link expresses concern that white people may not be welcome in Seaweed's neighborhood, Seaweed reassures him ("Run and Tell That").

Seaweed's song carries them into Motormouth Maybelle's Record Shop, where Seaweed introduces them to his sister, Little Inez, a dancer who was rejected at the Corny Collins auditions for being black. Motormouth Maybelle makes a grand entrance. Amber, having followed Link to the record shop, enters and is horrified at the proceedings. Velma, having followed Amber, enters immediately afterwards and is similarly horrified. Edna and Wilbur, having also been in the neighborhood, arrive as well and Velma and Edna immediately dislike each other. Velma and Amber storm out; Link refuses to leave with them. Tracy hatches a plan to integrate dancing on the TV show. Motormouth is enthusiastic but Link is reluctant to participate and departs. Edna is reluctant to participate as well, solely because she is embarrassed to be seen on TV due to her weight, but Motormouth assures her that she has nothing to be ashamed of ("Big, Blonde and Beautiful").

The protest at the studio is disrupted by the police (called by Velma). Link expresses his support for Tracy as most of those present are arrested.

Act Two

The entire female cast, with the exception of Prudy, are in jail ("The Big Dollhouse"). Due to Velma's political connections, Velma and Amber are soon released. Wilbur mortgages his store to post bail for the others. However, again due to Velma's manipulations, Tracy remains incarcerated alone ("Baltimore - Reprise").

Wilbur and Edna return home, only to find that Mr. Pinky has fired Tracy as his spokesperson due to the scandal. Edna sadly recalls her own unrealized dream to design a line of queen-sized dress patterns. However, even in this time of despair and crisis, Wilbur and Edna are comforted by their shared love ("You're Timeless to Me").

Link sneaks into the jail to find Tracy. He gives her his Council ring, explaining that he took it back from Amber to give it to Tracy ("Without Love"). Meanwhile, Seaweed rescues Penny, who has been tied to her bed by her mother as punishment for going to jail without permission.

They declare their love for each other. Simultaneously, Link helps Tracy escape from jail.

Seaweed and Penny take refuge at Motormouth Maybelle's Record Shop, where Link and Tracy soon join them. By now, news of Tracy's escape from prison is being broadcast on TV. The friends are tempted to abandon their goal of integrating The Corny Collins Show, but Motormouth convinces them to struggle on ("I Know Where I've Been").

It's now the day of the live primetime spectacular broadcast of The Corny Collins Show ("It's Hairspray!"). During a commercial break, a disguised Wilbur wheels a giant hairspray can onto the set. Velma penetrates his disguise, but Seaweed and Motormouth have replaced the security guards. They pretend to eject Wilbur at her behest. Despite Tracy's fugitive status, Corny reports that she and Amber are currently neck-and-neck in the voting for Miss Teenage Hairspray. Amber performs an unflattering dance dedicated to Tracy ("Cooties"). Just as Amber seizes the crown, Tracy storms onto the set, accompanied by Link, Penny, Seaweed, Little Inez, and company ("You Can't Stop the Beat - Part 1"). Penny has been re-styled and given a cool new look. The voting now shows Tracy as the undisputed winner, and Corny crowns her Miss Teenage Hairspray 1962. Tracy declares the show officially integrated. Spitzer arrives and announces that the audience is thrilled with the show, the governor has pardoned Tracy, and he wants Velma to serve as vice president of a new line of hair products for women of color. Wilbur opens the giant hairspray can to reveal Edna dressed in finery ("You Can't Stop the Beat - Part 2"). The company celebrates a brand new day for Baltimore.



Cast Size: Flexible Cast Size
Cast Type: Children
Dance Requirements: Heavy

Character Breakdown

Tracy Turnblad
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.
Gender: female
Age: 15 to 20
Vocal range top: G5
Vocal range bottom: G3
Corny Collins

The charismatic host of the Corny Collins' Show. Good looking and smooth talking, he is a genuinely nice guy both on and off camera.

Gender: male
Age: 25 to 35
Vocal range top: A4
Vocal range bottom: D3
Edna Turnblad
Tracy's big and blonde mother. She is a working housewife who has lost her confidence and dream to be a plus-size clothing designer. Boisterous and commanding. Played by a male in drag.
Gender: male
Age: 30 to 50
Vocal range top: G5
Vocal range bottom: F3
Penny Pingleton
Tracy's best friend and dorky sidekick. Not the brightest girl, but she has good intentions. Bursting to get free of her mother's dominating control, she falls for Seaweed with childlike curiosity.
Gender: female
Age: 15 to 20
Vocal range top: G5
Vocal range bottom: A3
Velma Von Tussle
Amber's mother and 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 is the next big thing.
Gender: female
Age: 45 to 55
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: G3
Amber Von Tussle
Link's girlfriend and Tracy's nemesis. She is pretty, thin, shallow, snobby, and racist. Can't dance but is expected to win Miss Baltimore Hairspray. Always feels the need to be the center of attention.
Gender: female
Age: 15 to 20
Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: A3
Link Larkin
The star heartthrob on Corny Collins' show. He is extremely attractive and talented. Hoping to get his big break with a recording contract, he unexpectedly falls for Tracy.
Gender: male
Age: 15 to 20
Vocal range top: A5
Vocal range bottom: G3
Seaweed J. Stubbs
Tracy's classmate and friend, who is discriminated against due to his skin color. He is cocky but surprisingly lovable. Talented in song and dance. He falls for Penny.
Gender: male
Age: 15 to 20
Vocal range top: D5
Vocal range bottom: F3
Little Inez
Motormouth Maybelle
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.
Gender: female
Age: 40 to 50
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: F3
Wilbur Turnblad
Tracy's simpleminded and kind father. He owns a joke shop and supports his daughter in spite of everything else. He also loves his wife, Edna, very much.
Gender: male
Age: 55 to 65
Vocal range top: A5
Vocal range bottom: A3
Prudy Pingleton
Penny's strict mother. Very conservative, controlling, and closed minded.
Gender: female
Age: 40 to 50
Vocal range top: B4
Vocal range bottom: D4
Corny Collins' Kids (Tammy, Brad, Brenda, Sketch, Shelley, Etc.); Students; Hookers; Protestors
Full Song List
Hairspray: Good Morning Baltimore
Hairspray: The Nicest Kids in Town
Hairspray: Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now
Hairspray: I Can Hear the Bells
Hairspray: Miss Baltimore Crabs
Hairspray: It Takes Two
Hairspray: Welcome to the 60's
Hairspray: Run and Tell That
Hairspray: Big, Blonde and Beautiful
Hairspray: The Big Dollhouse
Hairspray: Good Morning Baltimore - Reprise
Hairspray: Timeless to Me
Hairspray: Without Love
Hairspray: I Know Where I've Been
Hairspray: Hairspray
Hairspray: Cooties
Hairspray: You Can't Stop the Beat

Show History


Hairspray is based on the 1988 film of the same name directed by John Waters. Waters based the main storyline, and the "Corny Collins show," on the real-life The Buddy Deane Show and racial events surrounding it. Theatre producer Margo Lion saw a television broadcast of the film in 1998 and started to conceive it as a stage musical. She reached out to Marc Shaiman, and they based their material on both the 1960s dance music and the rhythm and blues in the African-American community at the time. Shaiman and Wittman used many already-established songs from the 60s as a basis for their own songs, like "River Deep, Mountain High" for "You Can't Stop the Beat" and "Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher" for "Without Love."

Initially, Rob Marshall was brought in to direct but scheduling conflicts with the movie Chicago proved to be too much. In writing the book, Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan made copious changes from the original screenplay. They chose to create obstacles for Tracy, simplified the plot, and fleshed out characters like Link, Seaweed, and Velma. They routinely collaborated with Waters about plot points and choice of language.


Hairspray, a musical comedy based on the film of the same name, premiered at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle. The musical features music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, and book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan. Following a successful west coast engagement, it transferred to Broadway and opened at the Neil Simon Theatre on August 15, 2002. The show ran for more than six years, closing on January 4, 2009 after over 2,600 performances.

Shortly after opening on Broadway, the first national tour launched in Baltimore. It ran from September 2003 to June 2006. Only a month after the tour ended, a U.S. and Asian tour opened at Atlantic City's Harrah's Casino. It started as a shortened 'casino version' of the show for six weeks in Atlantic City, then expanded to the full version of the show when the tour officially went on the road. After various engagements across many countries, it played its final performance on April 25, 2010.

More recently, a concert version premiered at the Hollywood Bowl for three days directed and choreographed by original choreographer Jerry Mitchell. The musical is also currently running on the Royal Caribbean International MS Oasis of the Seas ship.

The West End production of the musical opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre on October 30, 2007, starring Michael Ball and Mel Smith.  The original creative team of the Broadway production reunited to mount the show. It closed on March 28, 2010 after nearly 1,000 performances, then started a tour across the United Kingdom. Shortly afterwards, on October 2, an Australian production opened in Melborne. The show was redesigned to incorporate giant LED screens with which the actors could interact.

In addition to England and Australia, Hairspray has seen many international productions emerge since 2004. The musical has played everywhere from Manila to South Africa and Switzerland to Peru.

Cultural Influence

  • The musical currently holds the record for most Olivier Award nominations in Britain with eleven.
  • A film adaptation of the stage musical version of Hairspray was released in 2007. It featured performances from John Travolta, Zac Efron, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, and Queen Latifah.
  • Hairspray has been translated into more than eight different languages.

Critical Reaction

"This sweet, infinitely spirited, bubblegum-flavored confection won't be lacking for buyers any time soon. Arriving in an aerosol fog of advance hype, it more than lives up to its promise." - Variety Magazine

"Hairspray is as sweet as a show can be without promoting tooth decay. ... [it] succeeds in recreating the pleasures of the old-fashioned musical comedy without seeming old-fashioned. [...] the score's appeal isn't nostalgic. It's music that builds its own self-contained, improbably symmetrical world& " -The New York Times

"This is kitsch at its purest and least apologetic, and it's as impossible to shake off as the heroine's lacquered beehive 'do. [...] Shaiman has provided some of the most infectious melodies to grace an original Broadway show in years." - USA Today

"So many numbers in Hairspray bring down the house, it's a wonder the Neil Simon Theatre is still standing after the final curtain." - New York Magazine



Based on the New Line Cinema film, written and directed by John Waters


Under the terms and conditions of your organisation’s Performance Agreement, the following credits must appear on all advertising (including websites) relating to the production. Credits must be reproduced faithfully in accordance with the following layout. No alterations or deletions can be permitted unless stated below.
Percentages listed indicate required type size in relation to title size.
The Broadway Musical
Book by
Music by
Lyrics by
Mark O'Donnell
Thomas Meehan (50%)
Marc Shaiman (50%)
Scott Wittman
Marc Shaiman (50%)
Based on the New Line Cinema film written and directed by John Waters
The following billing must appear on title pages of programs, as well as in advertisements (subject to customary exclusions) and publicity, on a single line in a size of type not less than 60% of that used for the authors of the play, for all licensed productions:
Based on the New Line Cinema film written and directed by JOHN WATERS


The following billing must appear on title pages of programs for all licensed productions using any or all of the orchestrations created by Harold Wheeler:
Orchestrations by Harold Wheeler
In the event Mr. Wheeler receives title page credit, Mr. Shaiman requests title page billing as follows:
Arrangements by Marc Shaiman
The use of make-up to portray black characters in your production (e.g., blackface) is not permitted under this Production Contract. By signing below, you agree to inform the director of your production that such use of make-up is strictly prohibited.

If your production of Hairspray features actors who are portraying characters whose race may be other than their own, you may elect to include the below letter from the creators of Hairspray in your program. You are not permitted to edit the letter in any way.
Dear Audience Members,

When we, the creators of HAIRSPRAY, first started licensing the show to high-schools and community theatres, we were asked by some about using make-up in order for non-African Americans to portray the black characters in the show.

Although we comprehend that not every community around the globe has the perfectly balanced make-up (pardon the pun) of ethnicity to cast HAIRSPRAY as written, we had to, of course, forbid any use of the coloring of anyone's face (even if done respectfully and subtly) for it is still, at the end of the day, a form of blackface, which is a chapter in the story of race in America that our show is obviously against.

Yet, we also realized, to deny an actor the chance to play a role due to the color of his or her skin would be its own form of racism, albeit a "politically correct" one.

And so, if the production of HAIRSPRAY you are about to see tonight features folks whose skin color doesn't match the characters (not unlike how Edna has been traditionally played by a man), we ask that you use the timeless theatrical concept of "suspension of disbelief" and allow yourself to witness the story and not the racial background (or gender) of the actors. Our show is, after all, about not judging books by their covers! If the direction and the actors are good (and they had better be!) you will still get the message loud and clear. And hopefully have a great time receiving it!

Thank You,

Marc, Scott, Mark, Tom & John
The videotaping or other video or audio recording of this production is strictly prohibited.

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