You can’t stop the beat!

Brooklynn Pulver (above center) is Tracy Turnblad in the touring production of Hairspray. Photo by Phil Martin

Last summer, it was yet another musical breathing new life into the revival of movie musicals.

This summer, it’s an actual, three-dimensional live musical happening before your very eyes.

Hairspray, one of the happiest musicals around, is returning to the Bay Area. The show — described as “Broadway’s big fat musical comedy hit” — will play San Francisco’s Orpheum Theatre June 10 through 22.

This tour — the same one that was in Cupertino in February — is based on Jack O’Brien’s original direction and Jerry Mitchell’s original choreography, recreated, respectively, by Matt Lenz and Danny James Austin.

Sorry to report that John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Queen Latifah and Zac Efron are unavailable for the tour and will, for the moment, confine their performances to the silver screen. But wouldn’t it be fun to see if they could do it as well LIVE?

For information visit or

Travolta’s drag

The first glimpse of John Travolta as Edna Turnblad in the now-filming movie based on the hit Broadway musical Hairspray has been released, and it’s….well, see for yourself.

Yes, that’s Travolta on the left. And he’d probably want you to know he’s wearing a fat suit.

The young woman on the right is Nikki Blonsky, a 17-year-old from Great Neck, Long Island in New York. She won the part of Tracy Turnblad by beating out more than 1,000 other hopefuls in a nationwide search. Blonsky graduated from high school last January and, after getting the Hairspray gig, she quit her job at an ice cream parlor.

Hairspray is filming in Toronto until about December, and the rest of the star-studded cast includes Christopher Walken (as Wilbur Turnblad — yes, Christopher Walken is married to John Travolta in this movie), Michelle Pfeiffer (as Velma Von Tussle), Brittany Snow (as Amber Von Tussle), Queen Latifah (as Motormouth Maybelle), Amanda Bynes (as Penny Pingleton), Allison Janney (as Prudy Pingleton), Zac Effron (as Link Larkin), James Marsden (as Corny Collins) and newcomer Elijah Kelly (as Seaweed).

Composer Marc Shaiman, whom Bay Area audiences saw in Martin Short’s Fame Becomes Me, says the only time this extraordinary cast was all together was for a read-through/sing-through in August:

“The energy and excitement in that room was palpable and contagious. It was outrageously thrilling and exciting to see this incredible and diverse amount of triple-threat talent in one room. In the midst of it all, we witnessed Nikki emerging as Tracy. She didn’t just hold her own with John, Michelle, Christopher and Latifah. Rather, she set the bar for everyone in the cast. It was an incredibly moving experience and something we will never forget.”

Blonsky’s only previous acting experience was at Great Neck Village School, where she played Madame Thenardier in Les Miserables, Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, Kate in Kiss Me Kate and the title role in Carmen.

Producers say Hairspray, the movie, will be released in the summer of 2007.

And for the record, the Broadway production, which opened Aug. 15, 2002, is still going strong.