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Peoria Players Theatre
May 6-8 & 11-15

Bradley University sophomore Samantha Dean is ready to step into her first role at Peoria Players Theatre, playing the main character Tracy Turnblad in the nostalgic 1960s musical “Hairspray,” opening on May 6.

A secondary education/mathematics major from Elk Grove, Dean got her start on the stage just a few years ago in a musical at her high school.

“I actually had no idea that I could carry a tune until I decided to audition for my school’s variety show,” Dean said. “The director of the variety show was impressed with my voice … and it turned out that I really liked being in musicals. Ever since then, I fell in love with performing.”

“Hairspray,” which runs May 6-8 and 11-15 at Peoria Players Theatre, tells the story of a curvy, precocious Baltimore teen with big hair and a big dream – to dance her way onto Baltimore’s smash hit TV show, “The Corny Collins Show.” When a dance slot opens and Tracy steps into her dream role, she uses her new celebrity to racially integrate the TV show and change lives in her beloved Baltimore.

Based on the hit 1988 non-musical movie, “Hairspray” is a colorful, high-octane ride with thrilling choreography and memorable tunes such as “Good Morning Baltimore,” “Without Love,” and “You Can’t Stop the Beat.” The show’s Broadway run earned eight Tony Awards, including best musical.

“I think that the audience will definitely enjoy the music in this show,” Dean said. “A lot of the songs are very catchy and will make you want to get up out of your seat and dance with us. Although the show consists of very fun, upbeat music and dances, there is a very serious message about discrimination. I think that the audience will appreciate how Hairspray handles such a touchy subject with uplifting humor.”

Directed by Jeremy Kelly, choreographed by Darren Jackson-Adams and music directed by Kristen Williams, “Hairspray” features a cast of 55 people ages 13 to 66.

Playing Tracy’s parents are Trevor Neff as Edna Turnblad and Nate Downs as Wilbur Turnblad. Tracy’s love interest Link Larson is played by Colin Evers. Rounding out the lead characters are Susan Hazzard as Penny Pingleton, Steven White Jr. as Seaweed J. Stubbs, Valerie Kelley as Motormouth Maybelle, Adam Raso as Corny Collins, Kate Donlan as Amber Von Tussle and Michelle Rouland as Velma Von Tussle.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. May 6, 7, 11, 12, 13 and 14 and 2 p.m. May 8 and 15. Tickets are $19 for adults and $12 for patrons 20 and younger. Reservations are available by calling 688-4473, or online at

Posted on April 29, 2016