Diana Exclusive Q & A Interview with Andrew LeviTT aka Nina West with HAIRSPRAY

January 15, 2022


JANUARY 18 – 30, 2022

By: Diana Brang-Scott

HAIRSPRAY is the story of 16-year-old Tracy Turnblad in 1960’s Baltimore as she sets out to dance her way onto TV’s most popular show. Can a girl with big dreams (and even bigger hair) change the world? Featuring the beloved score of hit songs including “Welcome to the 60’s,” “Good Morning Baltimore,” and “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” HAIRSPRAY is “fresh, winning, and deliriously tuneful!” (The New York Times).

“It’s a brand-new world we find ourselves in today, and HAIRSPRAY is even more relevant than twenty years ago when it first burst onto the scene. With the renewed, refreshed energy of the unforgettable “Nina West” as Edna and a whole new generation of wildly talented kids across the board, we cannot wait to raise the various roofs once more with dance, joy, music, and that glorious, famous, energy-packed score!” shared Director Jack O’Brien.

The cast features Andrew Levitt aka Nina West (from “RuPaul’s Drag Race”) as Edna Turnblad, Niki Metcalf as Tracy Turnblad and Toneisha Harris (from NBC’s “The Voice”) as Motormouth Maybelle will be Billy Dawson as Corny Collins, Will Savarese as Link Larkin, Emery Henderson as Penny Pingleton, Brandon G. Stalling as Seaweed J. Stubbs, Kaelee Albritton as Amber Von Tussle and Addison Garner as Velma Von Tussle.

I had the absolute pleasure of speaking with Andrew Levitt aka Nina West. Andrew was born at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, his family lived in Michigan for about 4 years before they moved to Columbus Ohio, so we are claiming him as a Michigan native. His love for theater began when he was about 6 years old. “I was a Wiseman in A Christmas production, and I was bit by the acting bug the very first time I did a show!” He laughed. Andrews love for performing grew and it was an amazing supportive teacher at his high school that helped give him the encouragement he needed to pursue his dreams. “I had a teacher named Kathy Ringley even before I really knew that I was gay, I think she knew it and she protected me in a lot of ways, and she encouraged me to audition for my first show. She changed my life through and though. When people read the HAIRSPRAY program the dedicated to KR is my teacher. Sadly, she passed away last year, but I am forever grateful to her, she saw my ability, believed in me, and told me I could do it.”

This new touring production will reunite Broadway’s award-winning creative team, led by Director Jack O’Brien and Choreographer Jerry Mitchell, to bring HAIRSPRAY to a new generation of theater audiences. HAIRSPRAY is based on the New Line Cinema film written and directed by John Waters, who served as a creative consultant on the musical comedy. It features a book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan. HAIRSPRAY features an original score by Academy Award-nominated Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

ndrew is well known for being Nina West his stage name for his fabulous Drag Queen character. Nina won Miss Congeniality in Season 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. In HAIRSPRAY Andrew plays the role of Edna Turnblad, (Edna is not a man pretending to be a woman, she is all woman) a caring wife and mother who hasn’t left her house since she was a size 10. Embarrassed by her obesity, Edna works from home, laundering clothes. I asked Andrew why he wanted to be part of this production? He said, “What a perfect way to bend my two worlds acting and Drag. This role is one of the most iconic modern musical roles in the last 25 years. It is a huge opportunity to work with the original creative team that put this on Broadway, some of the most brilliant theatrical minds that have worked in theater.”

I asked Andrew how long it takes him to become Edna Turnblad? “The transformation takes place throughout the entire show I start with a base of a homely looking makeup design, and I add and change colors as her transformation is taking place. The story is being told in many different ways, from us using our words, music and dance, to the set design, costumes, lighting and through makeup. I am using the world that I come from which is Drag. Edna gets a full transformation that happens through the story, and I get to show that through my makeup. It’s about a woman rediscovering herself.”

This show has many messages, so I asked Andrew what he thought was the prominent one for the audience. He said, “I think we want people to walk away from this show and leave the theater like they can take on the world. Tracy Turnblad has an unrelenting positivity and that's the train driven through the show. We want people to be able to drive their own trains out of that theater and conquer the world for equity and inclusion, being confident with who they are, supporting others for who they are and their undeniable truths. I think that is what is at this shows core.”

Come out and see Andrew and the entire cast of HAIRSPRAY appearing January 18-30, 2022 at the Fisher Theatre. Tickets can be purchased online at ticketmaster.com and in person at the Fisher Theatre Box Office.

More information about HAIRSPRAY can be found at www.hairspraytour.com and @HairsprayOnTour Follow Broadway In Detroit on Facebook, as well as on Instagram and Twitter @BroadwayDetroit.