Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre opens season with Broadway hit 'Hairspray'

Tuesday, June 2, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 11:49 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, June 2, 2009
From left, actors Daryl Vaughan, David Hemsley Caldwell and Annie Funke practice a scene from "Hairspray," the opening play of the 49th season at the Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre. Vaughan, who will perform in drag as Edna Turnblad, is a regular face in Lyceum shows. Lead actress Funke, playing Tracy Turnblad, previously worked as an understudy for the role in the Broadway production.

COLUMBIA — Big hair takes the stage for big laughs in small-town Missouri on Wednesday when the Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre kicks off its 49th season with the Tony Award-winning musical “Hairspray.”  

The musical runs at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and 2 p.m. Sundays through June 13. A matinee is scheduled for 2 p.m. June 11.

Lyceum Theatre Summer Season

When: Eight shows between June 3 and Nov. 22.

Where: Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre. To get to Arrow Rock, take Interstate 70 west to Exit 98 for MO-41. Follow the signs.    

Tickets: Available at or by calling the box office at 660-837-3311. 

Cost: $31. Rush tickets for $21 are available on Wednesday and Friday nights by calling the box office at 10 a.m. the day of the performance. Ask for the weeknight special.

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"Hairspray" is the first of eight shows at the Arrow Rock theater this summer and fall. Others include "Annie," June 19 to 28; "Hello, Dolly!" July 8 to 18; "You Can't Take It with You," July 25 to Aug. 1; "The Diary of Anne Frank," Aug. 8 to 15; "Nunsense," Aug. 22 to 30; "Sleuth," Sept. 5 to 12; and "It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play," Nov. 14 to 22.

The Lyceum Theatre is a nonprofit repertory theater with professional talent drawn from around the country to perform in a 19th-century historic landmark.

"Hairspray" centers on a confidently curvy teen, Tracy Turnblad, and her determined quest to be a dancer on the “The Corny Collins Show,” the musical’s version of “American Bandstand.” In Tracy’s journey to the small screen, she opposes racial prejudice at a TV station when the manager forces an all-black dance show off the air.

Daryl Vaughan joins the likes of John Travolta to play the teen's shy, supportive mother Edna Turnblad, a role typically played by a male. Vaughan calls Lyceum his “home away from home.” Originally from Columbia, his first year at the theater was in 1983, when he was 23 years old.

“Things have gotten bigger and better here at the Lyceum,” he said.

“Hairspray” marks his 50th production acting, directing or choreographing a show for the theater.

Although many viewers might recognize the 1960s-inspired hit from the popular film released in 2007, Neil Totton — playing the smooth-talking, quick-footed Seaweed J. Stubbs — said Lyceum will give audiences its own interpretation.

“I start everything with a blank slate,” he said.

Totton, originally from Cape Girardeau, played Seaweed earlier in a run for the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia.

“This time around, I think I’m a lot more grounded and comfortable with the character,” Totton said.

Both Vaughan and Totton said “Hairspray” offers audiences a number of important social messages that go beyond the upbeat tunes.

“It’s a timely production with race relations, and just, you know, people getting together and being one,” Vaughan said.

Totten said “Hairspray” has had a big effect on him.

“That’s ideally what art is about — to change people’s perceptions,” he said. “'Hairspray’ has the ability to do that.”

Vaughan said he hopes audiences will see that the overall message of "Hairspray" — like many comedic musicals — is about the celebration of life.

“We all need to celebrate our life and other people’s lives,” he said.

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Sarah Jo Alban June 2, 2009 | 3:26 p.m.

I'd be interested in finding out more about Arrow Rock's "Nunsense" production. To the best of my knowledge, the theaters I've run across haven't produced that one when I've been in town.

(Report Comment)
Adam Falk June 4, 2009 | 2:20 p.m.

Here's a link to the Lyceum's page about their 2009 season. Click on the show you're interested in for more information.

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