Trust intrepid theater critic Elaine Liner to discover that a children’s theater company in Plano, Texas is performing an all-white version of the Tony-winning musical Hairspray. Based on John Waters’ 1988 film, the musical is about teenagers, R&B music and segregation in Baltimore circa 1962. Liner, the Dallas Observer’s arts scribe, found that Musical Theater International, which owns the musical, strictly forbids the use of blackfaced actors in place of black performers – although it allowed Plano Children’s Theater to cast white kids for the story’s nearly two dozen African American roles.
What’s next – all-white productions of To Kill a Mockingbird, Othello and The Wiz? Oh, wait, PCT told Liner those sounded like good ideas! Talk about non-traditional casting.