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‘You can’t stop the beat,’ Hairspray comes to El Paso

The Tony Award winning musical “Hairspray” was featured at the Plaza Theatre Oct. 4 and Oct. 5. Photo courtesy of “Hairspray”

The Plaza Theatre traveled back in time to 1962 with the production of “Hairspray.” El Pasoans are getting the chance to experience the theatre’s new endeavor, “Broadway in El Paso.” Which is showcasing Broadway shows that include “On Your Feet!,” “Dear Evan Hanson,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “CATS,” “Hamilton,” and “Hairspray.”  

“Hairspray” is a Tony Award winning musical comedy about a 16-year-old girl named Tracy Turnblad set in 1962 during the Civil Rights Movement.  

Tracy loves to dance and is a huge fan of “The Corny Collins Show.” She auditions to be a part of the show and becomes an overnight sensation. Using her new-found fame, Tracy advocates for racial integration on the show.  

The show was written by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan. Music arrangements were done by Marc Shaiman and lyrics were written by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman.  

The play is based on the 1988 film of the same name which was directed by John Waters. The musical originally opened in 2002 in Seattle, then moved to Broadway later that year. In 2007, a remake of the movie was made and there was also a live television version that aired in 2016.  

The play was shown at the theatre Oct. 4 and Oct. 5. El Pasoans filled the seats of the famous Plaza Theatre and enjoyed the two-and-a-half-hour musical. Colorful costumes and set designs transferred the audience to a different decade where people were not treated equally because of the color of their skin.  

Hairspray had an all-star cast that included Andrew Levitt, who is a famous drag queen called “Nina West.” They stole the show with their portrayal of Tracy’s mom Edna Turnblad. Tracy herself was played by Niki Metcalf, who had always dreamed of playing Tracy Turnblad since the first time she saw the Broadway musical. The queen of television, Morormouth Maybelle, was portrayed by Sandie Lee, who is a legend herself in real life. Her onstage son Seaweed was played by Charlie Bryant III. The teenage heartthrob Link Larkin was played by Nick Cortazzo. Tracy’s best friend Penny Pingleton was Emery Henderson. Archnemeses Amber Von Tussle was Ryahn Evers and her onstage mother Velma Von Tussle was played by Addison Garner. Corny Collins, the show host, was played by Billy Dawson.  

The musical played all of the fan favorite songs such as “Good Morning Baltimore,” “The Nicest Kids in Town,” “Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now,” “I Can Hear the Bells,” “Welcome to the Sixties,” “Without Love,” “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” and so many more.  

When asked after the show how they liked El Paso, the cast responded that they loved it here and could not wait to try the Mexican food.  

To find out more information on the upcoming Broadway in El Paso shows or to buy tickets, visit the El Paso Live website at 

Alyson Rodriguez is a staff reporter and may be reached at [email protected]; @alyson_rod1127 on Twitter. 



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About the Contributor
Alyson Rodriguez
Alyson Rodriguez, Contributor/Writer

Alyson Rodriguez is a senior at the University of Texas at El Paso, currently majoring in multimedia journalism with a minor in leadership studies. She is a contributor at The Prospector. She joined The Prospector in the Fall of 2020 as a contributor for the Arts and Culture section and has now written articles for the sports and news section and has done podcast segments as well. After discovering her passion for journalism through The Prospector, Alyson has gone to intern at El Paso Matters, NPR Next Generation Texas Newsroom and the Texas Standard. 

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‘You can’t stop the beat,’ Hairspray comes to El Paso