Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

UMass woman’s basketball ends FIU Holiday Classic with 65-47 loss to Drexel -

December 29, 2016

UMass men’s basketball finishes non-conference schedule strong with win over Georgia State -

December 28, 2016

Brett Boeing joins UMass hockey for second half of season -

December 28, 2016

‘Hairspray’ national tour dances into Mullins Center

The national touring production of “Hairspray” makes a stop at the Mullins Center tonight, as part of the University of Massachusetts’ “Broadway in Amherst” series.

The plot, which unfolds in 1962, centers on Baltimore teen Tracy Turnblad. Despite her unconventional weight for a dancer, Turnblad wins a spot on the popular television show, “The Corny Collins Show.” With her newfound fame and open mind, the teen – along with her circle of offbeat friends – is sent on an adventure of romance, activism and plain old fun.

The musical is based on a 1988 film of the same name by the king of camp, John Waters. The film turned Ricki Lake into a star and started a precedent for Waters, whose 1990 film “Cry Baby” would also be turned into a stage musical.

The Broadway production of “Hairspray” opened in 2002 to rave reviews. It was nominated for 12 Tony Awards in 2003, of which it won eight, including Best Musical. The show features an award-winning musical book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan (“The Producers,” “Annie”). The music is composed by Marc Shaiman with lyrics by both Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

“Hairspray” played on Broadway for nearly seven years, an extremely successful run for today’s day-and-age where year-old shows are considered unique. The show made Broadway history as the first successful production starring a plus-size actress. There have been curvaceous lead actors in the past, but before “Hairspray,” Broadway roles were not written with that body type in mind.

“I think Hairspray found a fun, exciting and beautiful way to tribute the human body in any shape, age, color or other dimension,” said Carly Jibson, who played Tracy in both the national tour and on Broadway.

Since “Hairspray” started the trend, many roles have gone to heavier actors. Well-received shows by critics and audience members alike featuring such actors include “Spring Awakening,” “Hair” and the upcoming Green Day musical, “American Idiot.”

While striking on the sensitive issue of weight and female body image, “Hairspray” also deals with themes of racism. Terms that are outdated and considered racist in modern times are used within the show. Still, the musical is considered family friendly and suitable for anyone.

The annual “Broadway in Amherst” has brought multiple theatrical events to the Mullins Center, including “Rain,” a Beatles cover band, as well as “Cirque Dreams: Illumination.” Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famed “Cats” will come to Amherst on April 19 and “Cabaret” will close the series on May 9.

“Hairspray” starts at 7:30 p.m. Adult tickets range from $43-$53; tickets for seniors and children 18 and under are $38-$48. Tickets can be purchased online or in person at the box office.

Alissa Mesibov can be reached at

2 Responses to “‘Hairspray’ national tour dances into Mullins Center”
  1. Phyllis Kalb says:

    Great article on ‘Hairspray! Your addressing the sensitive issue of weight for teen-agers as well as the racism that existed (and still does exist) certainly makes the play worthwhile for all ages to see.

  2. haha, I cherish Nico Rosberg! He’s so bright

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