Non diverse cast question

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October 8, 2018
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We are doing Hairspray Jr with my middle school and saw that there are suggestions for doing the show with a non diverse cast. My cast has many different diversities and would love to have the email with yur suggestions.

Thank you and so looking forward to presenting the show


Cindi Kostylo

IS 228, Brooklyn NY

1 Answer

Staff Answer
October 12, 2018

Hi, Cindi! We're glad you're excited about doing the show. Here's the text from the email you're referring to:

Dear Audience Members,

When we, the creators of HAIRSPRAY, first started licensing the show to high-schools and community theatres, we were asked by some about using make-up in order for non-African Americans to portray the black characters in the show.

Although we comprehend that not every community around the globe has the perfectly balanced make-up (pardon the pun) of ethnicity to cast HAIRSPRAY as written, we had to, of course, forbid any use of the coloring of anyone's face (even if done respectfully and subtly) for it is still, at the end of the day, a form of blackface, which is a chapter in the story of race in America that our show is obviously against.

Yet, we also realized, to deny an actor the chance to play a role due to the color of his or her skin would be its own form of racism, albeit a "politically correct" one.

And so, if the production of HAIRSPRAY you are about to see tonight features folks whose skin color doesn't match the characters (not unlike how Edna has been traditionally played by a man), we ask that you use the timeless theatrical concept of "suspension of disbelief" and allow yourself to witness the story and not the racial background (or gender) of the actors. Our show is, after all, about not judging books by their covers! If the direction and the actors are good (and they had better be!) you will still get the message loud and clear. And hopefully have a great time receiving it!

Thank You,

Marc, Scott, Mark, Tom & John


You can find this also when you go the Hairspray (full version) show page and click on "Full Billing" under the author credits on the right. If you have further questions, call our main line 212-541-4684 to speak to your licensing rep. Best of luck with your show!