The Producers of HAIRSPRAY THE MUSICAL Paul Dainty and Joel Pearlman together with Director David Atkins and Choreographer Jason Coleman were today delighted to announce nine Australian principal cast members who will star in the multi-award winning, smash hit musical set to open at the Princess Theatre in Melbourne, on Saturday 2 October.
Hairspray Director, David Atkins commented on the exciting cast: “It’s been a while since I have been through an Audition process in Australia and I was overwhelmed with the skill range and level of the performers who auditioned for Hairspray. As a result there was an embarrassment of riches when it came to making our final selection and we were afforded the luxury of being very selective and prescriptive with our final choices. The result I am excited to say is an extraordinary group of Musical Theatre performers who can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best in the world. With a mix of seasoned and new performers I believe we have the ingredients to take what is already a great award winning musical and propel it to even greater heights. We will be giving Australian audiences the best production with one of the best casts I have ever assembled or had the privilege to work with”
Starring in the lead role of the girl with big dreams and big hair, TRACY TURNBLAD, is newcomer JAZ FLOWERS. Twenty two year old Jaz Flowers grew up in Gippsland, Victoria and this is her first LEAD ROLE in a major musical theatre production. Her professional debut on the stage came only last year in 2009 when she was cast in Shane Warne the Musical and most recently Jaz has been seen playing the role of ‘Mabel Washington’ in the production of Fame the Musical.
On hearing the news of winning this coveted role, which thousands auditioned for, Jaz said “This is the role of a lifetime, I have been dreaming of playing a role like this all my life. Tracy Turnblad is an inspiration to young women all over the world and I will do her justice in the role. It’s such an honour to play Tracy in Hairspray, dreams really do come true!"
Tracy’s doting mum EDNA will be played by TREVOR ASHLEY, a performer often described as ‘the busiest man in Australian show-business’. Whether it be as a writer, musical director, performer or producer – there truly is no end to his talents. John Travolta made history when he donned a frock and knocked us out with his performance as the humble housewife Edna in the 2007 Hairspray film, Trevor is set to do the same.
Playing the role of the heart throb of The Corny Collins Show LINK LARKIN, is Australia’s own heart throb JACK CHAMBERS. Jack earned a place in Australian entertainment history when he was crowned the first So You Think You Can Dance winner in 2008. Since winning So You Think You Can Dance Jack has been living his dream of the dance career he longed for in New York. In the big-screen version, Zac Efron seduced all the girls with his silky smooth vocals, Jack comes home to Australia for the role of a lifetime to do the same and is excited about showcasing his incredible singing skills alongside his award winning dancing skills.
Accomplished and well-known actor GRANT PIRO, recently seen in the MTC production of The Drowsy Chaperone, will perform as Tracy’s adoring Father WILBUR TURNBLAD, which Christopher Walken delightfully portrayed in the acclaimed film. The glamorous role of VELMA VON TUSSLE will be performed by MARNEY McQUEEN, well known to music theatre audiences through her role as ‘Marion’ in the Australian production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert – The Musical.
SCOTT IRWIN, one of the great leading men of the Australian stage will light up the stage as CORNY COLLINS, the outrageously dashing host of the local TV dance show. The Queen of Baltimore Soul is radio DJ, MOTORMOUTH MAYBELLE and she will be played by CLE MORGAN, best known for her gritty and passionate performances as one of the Top 12 finalists in the 2003 debut season of Australian Idol
The role of Tracy’s best friend PENNY PINGLETON will be played by Green Room Award winner ESTHER HANNAFORD and streetwise and spunky LITTLE INEZ will be performed by NANCY DENIS.
HAIRSPRAY first opened on Broadway on 18th July 2002, and played for a fabulous 6 and 1/2 years until January 2009. It is a fantastically fun musical and winner of 30 major awards including: Tony Award for Best Musical (2003), Tony Award for Best Original Score (2003), Olivier Award for Best New Musical (2008) and a Grammy Award for Best Show Album (2002).
The Australian production of HAIRSPRAY is produced by entertainment impresarios Dainty Consolidated Entertainment, who were the original producer of Mamma Mia! and are currently delighting Melbourne audiences with their production of the hit stage show Jersey Boys and Roadshow Live, who brought the phenomenally successful New Line Cinema film HAIRSPRAY to Australian cinemas in 2007. The film was seen by 1 in 10 Australians and the subsequent DVD release has achieved multi-platinum sales of 300,000 copies.
With the cast announced, rehearsals are set to commence in early August! Tickets are on sale NOW!
Jaz Flowers – Tracy Turnblad
22 year old Jaz Flowers grew up in Morwell, a town in the Latrobe Valley Gippsland where she lives with her family when she is not performing.
The role of Tracy in Hairspray is Jaz’s first lead role in a major theatrical production.
Her professional debut on the stage came only last year in 2009 when she was cast in Shane Warne the Musical. Most recently Jaz has been seen playing the role of ‘Mabel Washington’ in the production of Fame the Musical.
By the age of three, Jaz had made her first stage appearance and continued performing in local Music Theatre and numerous Eisteddfods. She recently completed her Bachelor of Arts in Music Theatre at Ballarat University.
Jaz’s credits include featured soloist at the opening ceremony for the Pacific School Games, Retrospect (joining the Chorus) and Shine (joining the Chorus). Jaz also played ‘Frauline Schneider’ in Ballarat University’s presentation of Cabaret and ‘Blanch Ingram’ in Jane Eyre.
Trevor Ashley – Edna Turnblad
Trevor Ashley is often described as ‘the busiest man in Australian show-business’. Whether it be as a writer, musical director, performer or producer – there truly is no end to his talents.
He made his big-budget musical theatre debut creating the role of ‘Miss Understanding’ in the world premiere production of Priscilla Queen of The Desert – The Musical, playing over 600 performances in Sydney and Melbourne. He followed this with Gale Edwards’ massive hit, Jerry Springer the Opera at the Sydney Opera House.
His career in cabaret has led him to perform in New York, London and across Asia, in shows both as himself and in a dazzling array of characters and impersonations. Over the past year the controversial show Liza (On an E), has sold out two seasons at The Civic in Sydney, and toured to Adelaide and Brisbane Cabaret Festivals receiving rave reviews. With Courtney Act, he also created and starred in Gentlemen Prefer Blokes, playing seasons at Mardi Gras, His Majesty’s (Perth), Adelaide Cabaret Festival and Melbourne’s Midsumma.
Most recently, Trevor has been commissioned by the Sydney Opera House to create a brand new show entitled "I’m Every Woman" which will have its’ world premiere at the Sydney Opera House in July.
As a producer, Trevor created the cabaret phenomenon Showqueen, having showcased over a hundred cabaret performers and played to constant full houses at the Supper Club in Sydney for almost two years. The series has spawned two CDs, featuring some of the leading lights of cabaret and musical theatre. He has also presented artists such as Judi Connelli, Rhonda Burchmore, Tom Burlinson and Grace Knight at the Civic Hotel.
Ashley is also a recording artist in his own right, most recently appearing on the soundtrack of Stephan Elliott’s film Easy Virtue singing the theme song ‘Let’s Misbehave’. It has been released worldwide to critical acclaim.
His television credits include Comedy Inc., GMA , Australia Day Live, The Mint, and Mornings with Kerri-Anne . As an arranger and orchestrator, he has written for Caroline O’Connor, Todd McKenney, Paul Capsis and Rachel Beck . He has also Musical Directed and accompanied Maria Venuti, Jeanne Little and Shauna Jensen.
He is a graduate of the Talent Development Project.
Jack Chambers – Link Larkin
Jack Chambers earned a place in Australian entertainment history when he was crowned the first So You Think You Can Dance
winner in 2008, however his career in both song and dance commenced a long time before that. Jack started dance lessons at Brisbane’s Julie-Ann Lucas School of Dance at the age of three and continued there until he was 17. He combined this training with acting and singing studies.
Jack’s career took off at the age of 10 when he was cast in his very first Musical, the stage production of The Sound of Music, playing Kurt Von Trapp at the Lyric Theatre in Brisbane. He then ventured into video and television and was cast in a role for Japanese Children’s Television.
From the age of 15, Jack started performing with the male tap group Raw Metal. In collaboration with a friend within Harvest Rain Theatre Company, he devised an abstract production called Big Black Box, which earned him the “Young Star Award” in the year 2005. In 2007 Jack Choreographed and performed in Raw Dance Company’s Production Project X at the Holland Dance Festival in Den Haag and The Singapore Arts Festival.
Since winning So You Think You Can Dance Jack has been living his dream of a dance career he longed for in New York. Recent achievements in the big apple include working as a choreographer and teacher at the famous Joffrey Ballet School and PeriDance Center, winning the “Young Choreographer of the Year” Award at this year’s American Dance Awards as well as appearing in a number of theatre productions ‘Spring Gala 2010’ alongside Liza Minnelli & Ben Vereen, ‘Katy Bridgewater’ at Alvin Ailey Theatre and was head judge for ‘Dancing With The Teachers’ a David Scott Production.
Jack comes home to Australia for the role of a lifetime in Hairspray and is excited about showcasing his singing skills alongside his dancing.
Cle Morgan – Motormouth Maybelle
Cle Morgan is best known for her gritty and passionate performances as one of the Top 12 finalists in the 2003 debut season of Australian Idol
Cle first hit the entertainment industry in 1993 at the age of 12, starring in the children’s adventure/drama series Ship to Shore and continuing for the show’s second season. She went on to gain her Scholarship Degree in Dance from the John Curtin College of The Arts and by 1996 she was back in front of the camera playing a guest role in the Barron Films production of The Gift.
As a part of the 2003 Australian Idol Live Tour of all capital cities, Cle played to a total audience of over 200,000. She continued in her love of live theatre, performing the role of ‘Hud’ in the sold out 2007 season of Hair in Perth.
Grant Piro – Wilbur Turnblad
Grant Piro is a highly versatile and successful member of the Australian entertainment industry, who earlier this year was seen in MTC’s production of the musical The Drowsy Chaperone.
He began his career in 1983 with a twelve month stint on the television soap Sons and Daughters. Grant went on to work on numerous theatre and television projects in London, returning to Australia in 1990 to write and host his own show, Coach Potato.
Grant is well recognized on Australian television screens, with appearances including City Homicide, Sea Patrol, CrashBurn, Rainshadow, Wildside, SeaChange and Correlli to name a few. In 1995, his role in ABC TV’s Janus earned him an AFI Award nomination.
Some of Grant’s film credits include The Condemned, The Outsider, Crocodile Dundee in LA, Miracle Down Under, Bad Boy Bubby and Mr Accident.
Last year Grant appeared in The Production Company’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Prior to that he performed in the MTC productions of Realism and The 39 Steps, earning him nominations for a Helpmann Award and a Green Room Award respectively.
In 2005 Grant won a Green Room Award for his role in The Producers and also in 1999 for The Merry Widow.
Marney McQueen – Velma Von Tussle
Marney will be well known to music theatre audiences through her role as ‘Marion’ in the Australian production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert – The Musical
. She went on from this success to be nominated for Best Newcomer at the 2009 Melbourne International Comedy Festival for her show Rosa Waxes Lyrical
, which she also toured to Edinburgh and London.
Since graduating from NIDA in 2003, her theatre credits have included the role of ‘Patti’ in STC’s production of The Give and Take and in its return season for MTC and ‘Shelley’ in Scarlett O’Hara at the Crimson Parrot also for MTC . Marney co-created and performed in the hit production Connie Chang’s Cabaret Roadshow and took her one-woman show Bustin Out! Bondi to Broadway! to Don’t Tell Mama in New York in 2005, with a sell out return season in 2006. That same year she was an invited guest performer at a Gala Benefit Dinner for American Friends of NIDA in New York and she appeared in STC’s All Star Cabaret.
For television, Marney has starred in Network Ten’s comedy series The Wedge and played a lead guest role in the Seven Network’s Last Man Standing. Her film credits include the Nadia Tass directed Matching Jack, Son of the Mask and the short film Turn, for which she received a Best Actress Award at the Newcastle Film Festival. Marney is also a voice over artist for animated film and commercials.
Scott Irwin – Corny Collins
Scott Irwin has carved a career as one of the great leading men of the Australian stage, his highlights being ‘Enjolras’ in Les Miserables the 10th Anniversary Tour
and ‘Gaston’ in Disney’s ‘Beauty & the Beast’
. Other credits include The New Rocky Horror Show
(Paul Dainty), Secret Bridesmaid’s Business
(Playbox) and ‘The Sign of the Seahorse’
Ten years ago, at the completion of the Secret Bridesmaid’s Business tour, Scott suffered a serious spinal injury. He returned to the stage in 2004 in The Full Monty (David Atkins & IMG) and since then his career has been back in full swing, playing roles such as ‘George Kitteridge’ in ‘High Society’ and ‘Frank Butler’ opposite Marina Prior in ‘Annie Get Your Gun. In 2005 The Production Company reunited Scott and Marina in leading roles in ‘Kiss Me, Kate!’ Scott also led the cast of Camelot in the role of ‘King Arthur’, played ‘Paul’ in Company (Kookaburra) and then starred as ‘Billy Bigelow’ in Carousel (Twelfth Night). More recently he was seen as ‘Coach Bolton’ in Disney’s High School Musical Live on Stage!
Scott’s television credits include Good Morning Australia, The Midday Show, IMT, Mornings with Kerri Anne, Today Show, Hey Hey it’s Saturday, Blue Heelers and Home & Away to name a few. His film credits include Passion and Razzle Dazzle! in which he played Patrick, the super suntanned gardening show host!
Scott has performed at countless concerts, corporate and major sporting events, both as a soloist and as a member of Irwin, Millar and Stenlake and The Leading Men. Nearly 20 years ago Director David Atkins plucked Scott from relative obscurity to understudy Guy Pearce as ‘Danny Zuko’ in Grease. He is proud to be returning to the stage under David Atkins’ guidance to play the role of Corny Collins.
Esther Hannaford – Penny Pingleton
Esther’s career highlights include ‘
Amy’ in the Pratt Prize Award-winning Once We Lived Here
, for which Esther was honoured with a Green Room Award for Best Female Artist in a Leading Role.
Esther has also played Polly Brown in The Production Company’s The Boyfriend, Amy in Metro Street, and ‘Pegeen Ryan’ in The Production Company’s 10th Anniversary production of Mame. Esther also played the roles of ‘Essie’, ‘Alison’ and ‘Kursten’ in Virgins at The Malthouse in Melbourne before going on to perform the same roles when the show was staged at the New York Musical Theatre Festival.
Other theatre credits include EuroBeat, The World Goes Round, Hair, Idomineo and Scrooge. She was also the Lead Vocalist for the world tour of Burn the Floor and played the role of ‘Lisa’ in Mamma Mia! In July, Esther will play Persephone in the Four Larks Theatre Company production of Orpheus.
Nancy Denis – Inez
Nancy Denis was the tender age of three when she began her dance training at Sydney’s Brent Street studios. She further honed her talents in all facets of the entertainment industry by attending the Talent Development High School from years 7 through to 12.
Nancy graced the professional stage at an early age, playing ‘Tessi’alongside Anthony Warlow in John Frost’s production of Annie. In 2008, Nancy won a place as a member of the pop group ‘Panjo 5’ through Nickelodeon’s talent search show Airtime!. Nancy’s other screen appearances include the 2009 MTV Awards, Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards, Australian Idol (with Delta Goodrem) and Mornings with Kerri Anne.
Nancy has toured Australia with US Hip-Hop artists Omarion and Fatman Scoop and considers performing solo at the Australia Day concert to be a career highlight.
In early 2010, under the guidance of Jacqui Howard, Nancy and her family organised the ‘Hearts for Haiti’ benefit, raising much needed funds for the earthquake disaster.
Photos: Simon Parris
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