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Posted: Sunday, June 14, 2009 8:01 pm

Cumberland County Playhouse’s Southern Regional Premiere of HAIRSPRAY, the bright, funny, family-friendly, multicultural ‘60’s musical that inspired the film starring John Travolta and Queen Latifah opens on June 25th. Chattanooga comic actor/singer Jason Ross and Knoxville singer/actress Lar’Juanette Williams join Playhouse star alum Britt Hancock, direct from the National Tour of Hairspray, as the ever-smilin’ host of Baltimore’s “The Corny Collins Show”, a “Bandstand”-type teenage TV dance show.

“HAIRSPRAY is great for churches, groups and families,” says Ms. Williams, former Playhouse staffer and Mother Shaw in last season’s CROWNS. Jason Ross adds, “The contagious songs and high energy make you want to get up and dance, and the show sends a message that a unified America is unstoppable.”

Ross, featured for a decade in the Playhouse’s SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN as Preacher Oglethorpe, grabs a wig, heels and about fifty extra pounds to play Mrs. Edna Turnblad (the Travolta role), while Ms. Williams, seen in Memphis, Knoxville and on tour nationally as Effie in DREAMGIRLS, and in many Knoxville and Memphis productions, appears as Corny’s TV deejay “Motormouth Maybelle”, screened by Queen Latifah. These two great ladies help Edna’s daughter Tracy, the “NICEST KIDS IN TOWN” and “Motormouth Maybelle’s” hot-dancin’ black teens diversify the TV show as social-climbing TV producer Velma Von Tussle, Playhouse CATS star Weslie Webster, hilariously fights the R&B spirit. Playhouse Assistant Artistic Director Michele Colvin (High School Musical, Big River, White Christmas) directs and choreographs.

Key roles are played by Lebanon baritone Quinn Cason (“Seaweed”), recently seen in Knoxville’s Clarence Brown Theater’s THE WHO’S TOMMY; plus North Carolina’s Sara Scronce as cheery, chubby Tracy Turnblad; and Knoxville vocal stylists Laketa Booker and Kelle Jolly. Proving with their energy that “YOU CAN’T STOP THE BEAT” are Oklahoma’s Dylan Hauck and Knoxville’s JaQuay Gilbert, plus New York hoofer and national tour veteran Craig Blake.

Tickets for HAIRSPRAY and all shows in the Playhouse’s rotating rep schedule are online at and by phone at 931 484 5000. Summer shows include ON GOLDEN POND, sponsored by Dr. Stanley Bise, MD; SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN, sponsored by Cracker Barrel Old Country Store; and THE FOREIGNER, sponsored by Comfort Suites, Holiday Inn Express, and Hampton Inn.
Posted 6.14.09

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