You can’t stop the beat with the ‘Hairspray National Broadway Tour’

Audiences can enjoy a trip back to the early 1960s for the "Hairspray National Broadway Tour" performance Tuesday at the Clark State Performing Arts Center. Ohio native Andrew Levitt, center, will play Edna Turnblad./Contributed

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Audiences can enjoy a trip back to the early 1960s for the "Hairspray National Broadway Tour" performance Tuesday at the Clark State Performing Arts Center. Ohio native Andrew Levitt, center, will play Edna Turnblad./Contributed

If you’ve had enough of the holiday shopping and running around, take a break with a blast from the past with a shot of “Hairspray.”

The “Hairspray National Broadway Tour” will recreate 1960s Baltimore with high-energy dance and songs from the Tony Award-winning musical comedy at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Clark State Performing Arts Center.

The show is presented by the Clark State Performing Arts Center as part of its 2021-2022 season.

With a diverse cast of characters, “Hairspray” combines songs and strong messages as times changed in the early 1960s. Andrew Levitt, also known as Nina West, a drag queen character he created, gets to bring that diversity to life with his turn as Edna Turnblad, mom of lead character Tracy, an overweight teen trying to join the cast of a TV dance show.

“This is a lot of fun, it’s some of the best-ever written songs and best closing, and based on joy and hope, which is something we can use now more than anything,” said Levitt.

The Edna role is played by a man in drag and Levitt, who helped build his name on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” has worked hard on the iconic part, most famously played by John Travolta in the 2007 movie version. His goal was to make her a flesh-and-blood character and his own, allowing the audience will get to know her.

“This is an acting challenge, and I’ve taken it very seriously to cultivate my own version and be faithful to the character,” he said. “She’s a lot like the rest of us, wanting the best for her family and her life and I’ve learned a lot from her.”

An Ohio native who lives in Columbus, Levitt has visited Springfield previously, and is excited to have friends from Yellow Springs, Dayton and Columbus in the audience to watch him, as well as his parents, who will see him in the role for the first time.

“Springfield is a lovely little town,” he said.

A drag performer for more than 20 years, Levitt has seen the form grow exponentially as a part of pop culture, and he’s glad to see it being accepted more and more. He’s even formed The Nina West Foundation, based on his alter ego, raising funds for many charitable causes.

That background was also helpful in landing the Edna Turnblad role, and now he’s proud to be sharing it with audiences across the country, but especially here.

“This show just feels very, very comfortable. I’m excited to come to Springfield and entertain audiences from all over,” said Levitt.

Clark State requires masks be worn by audience members in the PAC to attend this performance.


HOW TO GO

What: Hairspray National Broadway Tour

Where: Clark State Performing Arts Center, 300 South Fountain Ave., Springfield

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14

Admission: $30-70 (plus fees)

More info: 937-328-3874 or go to pac.clarkstate.edu/shows/2021-2022-season/

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