Jenny Wiley Theatre ‘Hairspray’  overcomes challenges for energetic show

Amber Von Tussle (Rachel Pusey) poses with Corny Collins (Payton Trout) as he broadcasts his show as part of the musical production of “Hairspray” at the Jenny Wiley Theatre in Prestonsburg.

The Jenny Wiley Theatre performance of “Hairspray”, which opened on July 20, has faced a variety of challenges at the Jenny Wiley State Resort Park Amphitheater in Prestonsburg, but the cast is determined that the show must go on.

“The opening night was rained out, so the cast quickly improvised by transforming local restaurant, The Brickhouse, into a theatrical space and performed a concert of the show for the crowd,” said Matt Conn, Jenny Wiley Theatre marketing manager. “The second performance the next night made it to the end of Act 1 when another severe storm broke loose and the cast performed the Act 1 finale while carrying umbrellas — until the theatre lost power.”

Conn said the cast once again improvised by moving Act 2 to the May Lodge at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, and once again performed the popular musical for the local community by candlelight. 

“Hairspray” continues performances Tuesdays through Saturdays until Aug. 11. All performances begin at 8:15p.m. at the Jenny Wiley Amphitheatre, located at 121 Theatre Court in Prestonsburg. 

According to Conn, “Hairspray” is set in 1962 in Baltimore, and the lovable plus-size teen, Tracy Turnblad, has only one desire — to dance on the popular “Corny Collins Show.” When her dream comes true, Tracy is transformed from social outcast to sudden star. She must use her newfound power to dethrone the reigning Teen Queen, win the affections of heartthrob, Link Larkin, and integrate a TV network ... all without denting her “do”.

This production’s cast includes Tyler Sodoma, Mollie Downes, Jessica Rebecca, Robert Lee Poole III, Kurt Perry, Jeremiah Bryant, Maria Boissonneault, Rachel Turner Pusey, Chandler Bryant Matkins, Breia Kelley, Hayden Cole Schubert, Justin Norwood, Kynnedi Porter, Zach Perrin, Toni Lorene Baker, Ruby McCann, Sami Weathersby, Sam Van Vleet and Katie Davis, as well as local favorites Todd Maynard, Hope Watts, Haleigh Elise Hunt, Payton Trout, Jesse Plourde and Tess Sergent. Scenic and lighting design is by Darryl Willard, costume design is by Eric Franzen. The production stage manager is Chelsey Steinmetz and casting was by Joey Murray. Hairspray’s New York City’s-based creative team features music direction by Bryson Baumgartle, choreography by Valerie Salgado and is directed by Rachel Klein. 

“Hairspray” the musical, is based on the 1988 John Waters film of the same title, opened on Broadway in 2002 with music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Whittman and Marc Shaiman. “Hairspray,” a novel based on the 1988 film is by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan. 

A sneek-peek video of Jessica Rebecca singing “I Know Where I’ve Been,” about overcoming the past and embracing a future of love, along with Robert Lee Poole III, Breia Kelley, Kynnedi Porter, Jeremiah Bryant, and Toni Lorene Baker. Video has been posed to YouTube courtesy of cast member Justin Norwood. 

To see the video visit YouTube and search “I Know Where I’ve Been a capella - Jenny Wiley Theatre.”

“Jenny Wiley Theatre is Eastern Kentucky’s only professional theatre offering year round productions,” said Conn. “Since 1964, summers have been magical under the stars at the Jenny Wiley Amphitheatre, located in the beautiful Jenny Wiley State Park in Prestonsburg.”

In 2014, the Jenny Wiley Theatre expanded to a new main stage indoor theatre in Pikeville. Located at the corner of Second Street and Division Street, this facility offers productions on a year-round basis. 

JWT is a non-profit organization and receives funding from individuals, corporations, charitable foundations, the Prestonsburg Convention Center and Visitors Bureau, the City of Pikeville, the Kentucky Arts Council and the Kentucky Department of Travel. The Kentucky Arts Council, which is the state arts agency, supports Jenny Wiley Theatre with state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

For questions, more information or to purchase tickets visit,

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