George Wendt Says 'Cheers' as Next Edna Turnblad

By: Oct. 04, 2007
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The producers of Hairspray, winner of eight 2003 Tony Awards including Best Musical, have announced that George Wendt takes over the role of Edna Turnblad on Tuesday, October 23, at Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre (250 West 52 Street).  Wendt plays Edna through Sunday, January 20, 2008.

George Wendt is best known to television audiences as Norm Peterson from the landmark series "Cheers."   The role earned Wendt six Emmy nominations. George began his career with The Second City, Chicago's famed improvisational company. His feature film credits include Forever Young, Guilty By Suspicion, Fletch, Gung Ho, Rupert's Land, and Outside Providence.

Wendt recently starred in the national tour of 12 Angry Men and starred in London's West End and on Broadway in the Tony Award winning play Art.  He appeared in the critically acclaimed stage production of David Mamet's Lakeboat, which was directed by Joe Mantegna, and frequently performs onstage in New York, Los Angeles and his native Chicago.  In the summer of 1989, Wendt traveled to the USSR to portray the title role of Oblomov in a BBC adaptation of Ivan Goncharov's novel.

"In Hairspray it's 1962 – the 50s are out and change is in the air. Baltimore's Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, has only one passion—to dance.  She wins a spot on the local TV dance program, 'The Corny Collins Show' and, overnight, is transformed from outsider to irrepressible teen celebrity.  But can a plus-size trendsetter in dance and fashion vanquish the program's reigning princess, win the heart of heartthrob Link Larkin, and integrate a television show without denting her 'do?  Only in Hairspray!  Welcome to the 60s!" explain press notes.

Hairspray is based on the New Line Cinema film written and directed by John Waters, who serves as a creative consultant on the musical comedy.  It features a book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan, and a score by five-time Academy Award nominee Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman.  Hairspray is directed by Jack O'Brien and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell; scenic design is by David Rockwell; costume design is by William Ivey Long; lighting design is by Kenneth Posner; and sound design is by Steve C. Kennedy.  Hairspray, which celebrated its fifth anniversary on Broadway in August 2007, is the winner of eight 2003 Tony Awards.

Hairspray plays Tuesday and Thursday at 7PM; Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday at 8PM; Wednesday and Saturday at 2PM; Sunday at 3PM, at Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre, (250 West 52 Street).

For ticket information, phone Ticketmaster at 212-307-4100, or for group sales, phone 212-302-7000 or 800-677-1164.  Hairspray offers the ShowTrans system for foreign-speaking audience members in the following languages: French, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish.  Same-day, lottery tickets are sold at the box office for seats in the first row of the orchestra.  For more information about Hairspray, please visit

Photo of George Wendt (2006) by Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.