Left - Principal cast of Hairspray the Musical. Cover (l-r) - Jack Chambers, Trevor Ashley, Jaz Flowers and Grant Piro. Photos - Vito Mattarelli.
On a particularly cold winter's day today, the sky's cleared and the sun shone brightly as a convoy of 60s vintage cars pulled up outside Melbourne's majestic Princess Theatre. Out stepped nine of the principal cast from the upcoming blockbuster, Hairspray the Musical, in full costume.
The first car contained the show's leading family - the Turnblads. Proud mum Edna (Trevor Ashley), doting dad Wilbur (Grant Piro) and of course Australia's Tracy (Jaz Flowers).
Other cast members included the heart-throb Link Larkin (Jack Chambers), Corny Collins (Scott Irwin) , the glamourous Velma Von Tussle (Marney McQueen), Penny Pingleton (Esther Hannaford), Little Inez (Nancy Denis) and Motormouth Maybelle (Cle Morgan).
A full media contingent took the opportunity to film and capture as much as possible, before heading to the upstairs foyer for the official introductions by the show's producers Paul Dainty (Dainty Consolidated Entertainment) and Joel Pearlman (Roadshow Live). DCE produced the original Mamma Mia! in Australia a decade ago and have the recent smash hit Jersey Boys about to transfer to Sydney after a record-breaking Melbourne season. Roadshow Live brought the film version of Hairspray to Australian audiences in 2007, where it was seen by about two million patrons, while the subsequent dvd sales have reached impressive sales of 300,000 copies.
Heading the creative team, director David Atkins and Choreographer Jason Coleman spoke of the show's history to date and their plans for this production, including creating a new Australian design for the show, incorporating state-of-the-art technology.
Trevor Ashley is well known to cabaret audiences where his drag/impersonator successes have included Gentlemen Prefer Blokes and the recent Liza (On an E), which he performed last week at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. He created the role of Miss Understanding in the long-running Priscilla, Queen of the Desert - The Musical, playing over 600 performances in Sydney and Melbourne.
Jaz Flowers, at the tender age of 22, has managed to secure the career-defining lead role in Tracy. A graduate of Ballarat University and originally from Morwell, in regional Victoria, Jaz is currently touring in Fame the Musical. Her professional debut came just last year when she was cast in Shane Warne the Musical.
Hairspray the Musical enjoyed a 6 and 1/2 year run on Broadway, after opening in July 2002 with Harvey Fierstein playing Edna. The internationally successful film version in 2007 starred John Travolta, while a long-running London production opened that same year with Michael Ball.
Based on a non-musical John Waters film comedy from the 80s, the stage show has gone on to win over 30 major awards, inluding the Tony Award for Best Musical, the Olivier Award for Best New Musical in London, and the Grammy Award for Best Show Album.
Hairspray the Big-Hair blockbuster musical will open at the Princess Theatre, Melbourne on Saturday 2 October 2010.