Billy Dawson Returns Home Again with Hairspray!
It was only last April that Billy Dawson made his triumphant return to his hometown to perform in the touring production of Hairspray. The show drew fans of the show, certainly, but it was the chance to see Dawson’s success in theatre that brought many to the Embassy that night. Dawson was well known for his many performances in Fort Wayne from his Youtheatre days to more adult shows like Jekyll & Hyde at Fort Wayne Civic Theatre. But in recent years, Dawson has been able to spread his wings internationally. He spent a year in Japan, being there January 2020 until January 2021, providing him with both a great new opportunity but a unique version of the COVID Year.
Now Dawson is in his second season with Hairspray, and once again it brings him close to home. Wednesday, November 2 the show moves to Wabash’s Honeywell Center, and although a second year means playing the same role over and over, there are plenty of ways that Dawson finds a fresh experience each and every night.
“It’s still incredible,” he said. “I’m really lucky with this cast of people, this crew of people. And the new cast members bring something different to the roles so you never feel like a robot doing it over and over. When you have a new person with you in the scene, it makes it new. The venues change too so even my view of things backstage is new.”
Dawson also continues to enjoy the travel – and occasionally getting to stay longer than overnight.
“I’m traveling parts of the country I have never seen before. When I went to Japan in 2020, I had never been west of Wisconsin. I’m really enjoying seeing so many new places. For this interview, Dawson was in Boston where the show was playing for two weeks.
“This stop in Boston has been incredible. I’m having so much fun. It’s more of a sit down situation because you can explore the city, buy your own groceries, just settle in for a time. We’ll have three weeks in Los Angeles in May, and I love having those sit down experiences.”
As he prepares to come back to Indiana in a few days, he still relishes the memories of his visit to the Embassy in April, among them seeing his South Side teacher Elizabeth Sanchez coming to see the show.
“It was – and I know how cliché it is, but it’s true – it was an absolute dream come true. When I imagined life in the theatre, that was the stage that lived in my dreams. I still had a job to do, but I allowed myself to look out and take it all in. My mom got to see me, and I saw family that I hadn’t seen for awhile. And as I was going into the building I saw my high school theatre teacher getting out of her car. It was such an exciting day.”
For tickets to see Dawson reprise his role as Corny Collins in Hairspray, visit honeywellarts.org.