Art and Culture

 The Dallas stop of ‘Hairspray' is Caroline Eiseman's last dance as Tracy Turnblad

“Hairspray” is running June 18 – 30 at the Music Hall in Fair Park

Caroline Eiseman as “Tracy Turnblad” in Hairspray "good Morning, Baltimore"
Jeremy Daniel

After 250 performances in at least 70 cities, Caroline Eiseman is getting ready to say farewell to Tracy Turnblad, the dance-loving leading lady of Hairspray. Dallas is the final stop for the national tour of the Tony Award-winning musical, presented by Broadway Dallas June 18 – 30 at the Music Hall at Fair Park.

“As someone who grew up in a world where I looked different than my peers, being able to share this story around the country and meet people who relate to Tracy is an unexpected gift. It’s wonderful. It makes me a little emotional to think about,” Eiseman said.

“You Can't Stop The Beat” (Nov 23) - (center) Caroline Eiseman as “Tracy Turnblad” and Company in Hairspray
Jeremy Daniel
Caroline Eiseman as Tracy Turnblad and Company of "Hairspray" in “You Can't Stop The Beat."

Eiseman grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. She started performing in community theater at age 6 and has never stopped acting. Even as a child, she knew she wanted to make a life on the stage. At age 16, she sat down with her parents to explain her plans to pursue a BFA in college to prepare for an acting career. Her normally supportive father was hesitant, suggesting a double major in something practical like business. Eiseman was determined. After seeing her in Hairspray, Eiseman’s father is proud of her for pursuing her dream.

“He just looked at me and said, ‘Thank God I let you do what you wanted to do because it has taken you here. You did it,’” Eisman said.

Eiseman is a Belmont University Musical Theatre alumna. She has been on this three-year tour for two years. Initially, she was the standby for Tracy for a year, and she took over the role full-time for her second year.

“I’ve been places I don’t think I would have ever gone. My favorite tour cities were Boston and Vancouver, literally quite opposite sides of the continent and they were both brilliant and gorgeous,” Eiseman said.

Eiseman treasured being able to perform in her hometown and her college town of Nashville. Her parents traveled to San Francisco to see her perform and to reconnect with her aunt, uncle and cousins.

“We have been able to stay in contact with family members across the country that we never get to see, and I have friends from college and high school that have now moved who got to see the show in different places just because we were there. We were in Charlotte last week and I got to see one of my best friends from high school who I haven’t seen in six years,” Eiseman said. “It’s been the most incredible gift of this touring world.”

Eisman loves playing Tracy Turnblad, the plus-sized teenager living in 1960s Baltimore who dreams of dancing on the local TV dance show. After earning a spot on the program, Tracy pushes for the show’s integration.

“I love her ‘nothing is going to hold me back’ kind of spirit. She doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer and in the show, she’s told ‘no’ quite a few times,” Eiseman said. “She’s a problem-solver and she just doesn’t get why everybody can’t dance together. That’s her question: ‘Why can’t I dance with my friends because of what they look like? Why can’t I dance with you because of what I look like?’”

“I Know Where I’ve Been” (Nov 23) - (center) Deidre Lang as “Motormouth Maybelle” and the Company of Hairspray.
Jeremy Daniel
Deidre Lang as Motormouth Maybelle (center) and the Company of "Hairspray" in “I Know Where I’ve Been.”

Tracy’s optimism is apparent in the opening song, “Good Morning, Baltimore,” cheerfully singing about the rats on her street and the flasher living next door.

“Our director says she looks at such plain things and makes them technicolor,” Eiseman said. “She talks about it as if it’s the coolest flipping thing that’s ever existed. She really sees the ordinary as extraordinary. I think we all need a little more of that in our world. If we looked at our world with a little more love and a little more light, imagine what we could do.”

This tour has been Eiseman’s greatest artistic challenge, physically and emotionally. Every day, she gauges her physical readiness to play a character who doesn’t leave the stage for two and a half hours.

“It’s without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever done, in the best way,” Eiseman said.

Eiseman finds herself connecting to the story in different ways with each performance.

“We tell a super emotional story that a lot of people relate to every night,” Eiseman said. “Some nights you get so emotional when you get caught up in telling the story and you look around at your cast members and people are crying onstage, and it’s such an insane human experience to feel emotions that way, but I am so grateful to be part of that because it really is magical.”

“Welcome to the 60s” (Nov 23) - (from L) Caroline Eiseman as “Tracy Turnblad,” Greg Kalafatas as “Edna Turnblad” and Company in Hairspray.
Jeremy Daniel
From left, Caroline Eiseman as Tracy Turnblad, Greg Kalafatas as Edna Turnblad and the Company of "Hairspray" in "Welcome to the 60s."

Eiseman has advice for anyone who gets to play Tracy.

“Take a deep breath. Trust yourself fully. Perfection is the enemy of the art,” Eiseman said. “Lucky you! She is so much fun. I’ve learned so much from her. I hope every girl who gets to play her finds a little bit of herself in Tracy and the joy that brings along.”

Learn more: Broadway Dallas

Contact Us