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Billy Dawson Returns to Fort Wayne in Hairspray

Fort Wayne audiences are very familiar with Billy Dawson. A Youtheatre alum, Dawson was a huge presence on our local stages for years. With plum roles as the star of Fort Wayne Civic Theatre’s Jekyll & Hyde and starring as the Emcee in the Three Rivers Music Theatre’s production of Cabaret, Dawson demonstrated both his amazing vocal chops and his incredible acting talent.

It’s not surprising then that people outside of Fort Wayne would take note of his talents, and in January 2020 he began a stint with Universal in Japan. It was an incredible opportunity…until spring brought the COVID pandemic which brought life around the world to a standstill.

“We had to shut down for three months,” Dawson said. “We were watching the world just stop, knowing our families and friends were experiencing it so far away. We were 14 hours ahead so it was hard to communicate with anyone. But those of us in Japan were all in the same boat, and the park had no policies in place for something like that. We would ride our bicycles to stay in shape.”

After the three-month shutdown, they returned to limited access performances, half the number of what had been the plan. Continuing to take precautions, Dawson completed his yearlong contact in January 2021, returning to Fort Wayne and Chicago, continuing to audition. Last summer he auditioned via Zoom for the touring company of “Hairspray,” nabbing the role of Corny Collins. Dawson’s national tour comes to Fort Wayne’s Broadway at the Embassy series on April 11 where he can expect a rousing hometown welcome to greet him. Dawson is enjoying the show and the opportunity to travel.

“I was told that touring would be the hardest thing in my career, but it’s a fun challenge. I enjoy seeing other parts of the country, and I love the message of this show and seeing people’s reaction.”

Although he loves his castmates, he has warned them he probably won’t be hanging out together in Fort Wayne.

“I love all of you in the Hairspray world, but I need to let you know you won’t see me very much in Fort Wayne. I’m really looking forward to coming home and seeing everyone.”

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