The days have been shorter but Paramount’s theatre offices are long on excitement! Dear reader, it’s about time you get the scoop on who’s in the cast of Hairspray! What took so long? Casting was completed just last week! Rehearsals began yesterday! Lots of new faces as 22 of the company of 30 actors are making their Paramount debut!

Let’s begin with the role of “Little Inez” played by Ariana Burks, a PBS, Emmy-nominated actress and recent star of Alice’s Rock & Roll Adventure at Chicago Children’s Theatre, joined by dynamo TJ Crawford as her older brother “Seaweed J. Stubbs” and Jeff-nominated actress for Circle Theatre’s Reefer Madness, Landree Fleming as “Penny Pingleton.”

The kids in the show dancing up a storm with them are David Davis, Gilbert Domally, Annie Jo Ermel, Adam Fane, Megan E. Farley, Allyson Graves, Danielle Jackman, Alex John Johnson, James Lee, Mallory Maedke, John Marshall Jr., Mollyanne Nunn, Jaymes Osborne and Phil Young.

The “Welcome to the 60’s” Dynamites are the fabulous Allie Jae, Reneisha Jenkins and Carlita Victoria. Terrific Samantha Pauly is featured as “Amber Von Tussle” with her producer mother of The Corny Collins Show, villainess “Velma” played by stunning Heather Townsend.

Paramount’s George Keating (“Thenardier” in Les Misérables) and Ericka Mac (“Miss Shields” in A Christmas Story) return as “Authority Figures,” and Devin DeSantis (Tommy’s “Tommy” and Les Misérables’ “Marius”) is back as celebrity TV host “Corny Collins.”  Henry McGinniss is teenage heartthrob “Link Larson” who recently appeared in the Mercury Theatre hit The Addams Family and Bailiwick Chicago’s Carrie.

Making his Paramount debut as well is Michael Ehlers (coming to us from the recent American Blues Theater’s Side Man) as “Wilbur Turnblad” the joke shop proprietor and husband to “Edna” played by Michael Kingston, of Porchlight’s  How to Succeed in Business Without Really trying, Theo Ubique’s Light in the Piazza and fresh from the national tour of Flashdance. As their big-hearted daughter “Tracy,” multi-talented Amelia Jo Parish brings triple threat star power from Timber Lake Playhouse, The Muny and The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

Speaking of star power, I am most proud to announce that the incomparable E. Faye Butler is “Motormouth Maybelle.” I’ve known this powerhouse, multi-award winning beauty all my life it seems, and it is hard to keep track of Ms. Butler as she never stops working! I will never forget her portrayal of Dinah Washington in Dinah Was and again in the title role of Court Theatre’s Caroline, or Change.

My heart bursts with excitement welcoming this top notch, all singing, all dancing company of stars to Paramount! Ladies and gentlemen, you are in for a Broadway musical theatre treat and a story you will never forget, directed and choreographed by Amber Mak!

There are many joys and blessings these holidays and may they all be yours!

Love & thanks,


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