A sneak peek behind the curtain



Lauren Johnson, originally from Omaha, Nebraska, will take the stage as part of the “Hairspray” national tour on Tuesday, Sept. 13 and Wednesday, Sept. 14.


“Hairspray” cast member Lauren Johnson “really excited” for tour stop in Cedar Falls 

The national Broadway tour of “Hairspray” will be taking the stage at the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, Sept. 13 and Wednesday, Sept. 14. The show kicks off the Gallagher Bluedorn’s Fall 2022 Artist Series, in which students receive two free tickets to a show of their choice within the series.

Cedar Falls is the second stop the tour will be making on their 52 city tour currently scheduled through June 2023.  

The Northern Iowan had the opportunity to interview cast member Lauren Johnson, who plays the role of Lorraine, a student at Patterson Park High School in 1960s Baltimore. Johnson, originally hailing from Omaha, Nebraska, is excited to jumpstart her professional career with this tour of “Hairspray.”

“Compared to some of my colleagues, I kind of got a late start. I didn’t do my first musical until high school, when I was 15,” she recounted. “I was in the ensemble of a show called ‘Once Upon a Mattress,’ and it kind of just lit a fire in me, and I tried to do as many shows as I could in my school and in my community. It was kind of quick, in just a couple of years I decided that I wanted to pursue musical theater in college.”

Johnson received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theatre from Viterbo University in Wisconsin. 

After graduating, she worked on a number of projects before landing the role in “Hairspray.” The cast had three weeks of rehearsals in New York City before officially setting out on tour on Aug. 26.

The highlight for Johnson in the timeless musical comedy is the song “Run And Tell That.” 

“It just feels like a big party, and you can see right away just how close the cast is in real life offstage too,” she said.

While getting to sing, dance and perform are certainly some of the main perks of being a national Broadway touring actress, those offstage moments, Johnson told the Northern Iowan, are just as important.

“It feels like a little mini vacation everywhere we go,” she said, “and I get to travel with my best friends all the time.”  

“It’s something I didn’t really know was a possibility until starting this job. We build really strong friendships, get to travel and see new sights and get to do cool things even offstage,” she added. “It doesn’t make work feel like work. It just feels really fun.”

Being a midwest native, visiting cities like Cedar Falls creates very personal moments for Johnson in her career.

She said, “I’m really excited because the midwest is home. Everyone is very friendly and from what I’ve heard from past cast members, they said that the midwest shows were always super fun because everyone in town was so kind and so excited for the shows.”

“The stereotype of the midwest being really friendly and nice is actually very fitting for the most part, and all of my family is from the midwest so they’ll be able to see all of my shows,” she continued. 

“It reminds me of where I came from and my roots, which is always a good thing to come back to, especially living in a city like New York.”

While Johnson is having a great experience on tour so far, she also emphasized the great message within the show. 

“I think if anything, Hairspray is a show about community and acceptance, and it’s all reminders that we need right now, especially with where society is at and how it’s been for the last few years. It’s just full of joy, colorful and bright and tells a good story. There’s no way you can’t have fun.”

Tickets to “Hairspray” may be purchased in-person at the ticket office at the GBPAC or online at gbpac.com/event/hairspray.

See the entire upcoming events schedule at gbpac.com/upcoming-events.