Hitting the Broadway stage can always be a daunting task, and portraying one of the most iconic characters in musical theater history makes it that much more nerve wracking. Thankfully, the person who is about to inhabit the role of Edna Turnblad in Hairspray is well-versed in strutting her stuff in heels on a big stage. RuPaul’s Drag Race fan favorite and Ohio darling Nina West (otherwise known as Andrew Levitt) is about to headline the upcoming US National Tour revival of the Tony-award winning musical, from producers Jerry Mitchell and original director Jack O’Brien. Hand-chosen by O’Brien and Mitchell, the two Broadway legends simply saw non one else embodying the role the way that Levitt does.
West is not the first larger than life performer to step into the shoes of the iconic Ms. Turnblad. Drag icon Divine first portrayed Edna Turnblad in the 1988 film Hairspray, with John Travlota going on to play the character (opposite fellow Hollywood legend Christopher Walken as husband Wilbur) in the 2007 version. Broadway’s Edna Turnblad has also been portrayed by Great White Way icon Harvey Fierstein in 2002, who also snagged a well-deserved Tony Award for the role (Fierstein stepped back into the pumps in 2016 to portray the role once more in Hairspray Live! on NBC). Other performers who have played the role of Edna Turnblad include everyone from Michael Ball (in the U.K. production) to Bruce Vilanch in the first U.S. national tour.
The gravity and legacy of being part of this landmark show is not lost on West. She told me exclusively “This is a dream for me to be able to step into this show. I am so excited to be part of this show and it’s tremendous legacy. The ‘Hairspray’ family is big and filled with love, and I am so honored to be included.”
The brand new tour will begin shows in San Diego, CA at the at Broadway San Diego’s Civic Theatre (November 16-21, 2021), going on to visit more than 60 cities in its first touring season and is expected to play across North America for multiple seasons. Learn more about the new touring production at www.hairspraytour.com.
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