Jaz and Tracy – The Perfect Fit

 Benjamin Neutze chats with Jaz Flowers, currently starring as Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray the Musical – AussieTheatre.com’s featured show. 

 Benjamin Neutze chats with Jaz Flowers, currently starring as Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray the Musical – AussieTheatre.com’s featured show.  Jaz FlowersJaz Flowers never thought she would play Tracy Turnblad. She didn’t even audition for the role, thinking she was better suited to play Tracy’s best friend Penny, or her arch-nemesis, Amber. By her own admission, she was too tall, too old and, perhaps most importantly, too thin to play Tracy. 
But when Jaz was called back for her second audition, the panel asked her to prepare the material for Tracy, just as something extra. After a long audition process and many callbacks, Jaz was told, much to her own surprise, that she’d landed her first lead role in a major musical. 
Jaz loves Hairspray because it’s not only great fun, but has a real message.  “It’s not just fairy floss, there’s a real meaning to it, which is that you can’t judge a book by its cover,” she says.
Jaz admits that it’s not always easy to stay as energetic and upbeat as she needs to be eight times a week. “I’m a very happy person in life as I am in work,” she says. “I make sure I eat healthy and go to the gym, but I don’t deprive myself of the things I like. I go out and have a good time with my friends, see my family, and do everything I need to do to stay a happy person. Tracy is a very happy, bright person, and she’s hard to play when you’re in a bad mood. Not to mention I drink a lot of Coca-Cola. That definitely keeps me energised.”
Aside from the onstage challenge of performing in a fat suit with the most technically complex musical theatre set in the country, Jaz also strives to make sure that she’s everything a leading lady should be offstage. “There’s a lot of pressure to be someone who people can look up to,” she says. “There are a lot of kids who come and see the show and are fans, so you have to set a good example, not just as an actor, but as a person.”

Playing Tracy unfortunately means that Jaz misses out on some of the best backstage gossip, being onstage for almost the entire show, as well as being preset in a bed suspended 20 metres above the stage for five minutes before the show even begins. Jaz says that before each show she drinks a can of Coke, some water, has a Mentos and then gets tucked into bed by her friend Renee Armstrong, who plays her enemy, Amber von Tussle. “If she’s not there to tuck me in, we get a bit funny, because it’s become a bit of a ritual,” she says.
For such a technically advanced show, Jaz says things have run fairly smoothly throughout the season, but she remembers one night when the computers froze at the beginning of the show and the bed refused to lower.  “I was stuck 20 metres in the air, the bed was shaking and there were lots of noises happening and people were running around like crazy below me.”
When asked what advice she would give to people just starting out in theatre, Jaz says that as clichéd as it sounds, it’s important to follow your dreams.  Hairspray“I was told my entire life that my dream was impossible, to become a leading lady is a big stretch. But I refused to listen to anybody and I followed my dream and it came true!” she says.  Jaz’s determined attitude makes it all too clear why, in spite of her appearance, she is the perfect fit to play Tracy. Photo: Trevor Ashley and Jaz Flowers (right) in Hairspray. Photo by Jeff Busby

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