Last night, I saw "Hairspray" — a good-natured, high-energy, cartoon version of the 1960's, now in its fourth year on Broadway. Shannon Durig, who presently plays tubby Tracy Turnblad, the Baltimore teen who longs to dance on the TV show she admires, comes to Broadway from Overland Park, Kansas, and is as sunny and genial off-stage as she is on. Naturi Naughton, who plays a young, black teenager who also would like to dance on the TV show and is excluded because of her race, is a 22-year-old from East Orange, N.J. Judine Somerville, one of two cast members who has been singing and dancing in "Hairspray" since the beginning of its Broadway run, grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, one of Brooklyn's troubled neighborhoods in the 1960's and now getting gentrified.
Most actors would be over the moon to be in a Broadway show, much less a long-running one that guarantees them steady work and a decent paycheck. New York is a place where anything can happen, and sometimes does. On Broadway at twenty-two? Why not?
That's what keeps people coming here — and coming and coming — New York, the place where dreams even bigger than dancing on a TV show sometimes come true...