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For ‘Hairspray’ lead Caroline Eiseman, St. Louis show is a homecoming

Caroline Eiseman (center) as Tracy Turnblad in "Hairspray."
Jeremy Daniel
Caroline Eiseman, center, as Tracy Turnblad in "Hairspray."

Since 2022, Caroline Eiseman has donned the big hair of teen dance phenom Tracy Turnblad in more than 100 performances of “Hairspray.” It was a role she never thought she’d land — until she did.

“It kind of felt like a pipe dream, like something that wasn't actually going to happen for me,” Eiseman, a St. Louis native, told St. Louis on the Air. “It was something I had wanted for a very long time.”

Eiseman is returning to St. Louis with the touring production of “Hairspray” on Feb. 8-9 and going to Rolla on Feb. 21. She started performing as Tracy Turnblad as a standby, meaning she had to be ready to play multiple roles in case another actor couldn’t perform. In 2023, she was elevated to the role full time.

There’s a big difference between standby and full time: “I am a lot more tired, in the best way,” she said.

“I leave the stage about five times in [those] two hours. I take a sip of water and I run back, or I change my costume, and I run back on. I am experiencing the craziest marathon every night. I have learned so much about myself as a performer, [and] I have learned so much about myself as an actor," she said. “I love performing, and getting to do it every night — sometimes twice a day — is the greatest gift I could have ever been given.”

Related Event
What: “Hairspray” National Tour
When: Feb. 8-9 in St. Louis; Feb. 21 in Rolla
For location and ticket details: Hairspraytour.com

To hear more insights from Caroline Eiseman about “Hairspray” and landing the role of Tracy Turnblad, listen to St. Louis on the Air on Apple Podcast, Spotify or Google Podcast or by clicking the play button below.

Listen to Caroline Eiseman on 'St. Louis on the Air'

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to talk@stlpr.org

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Danny Wicentowski is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air."