Broadway Babies: Hairspray's Hayley Podschun and 11 More Performers You Should Know

Watch It! For more Hayley, click here

When Hayley Podschun sweeps into the room for DS’s photo shoot, it’s like a breath of fresh air. Like Tammy, the character she plays in the Broadway musical Hairspray, 20-year-old Hayley is bubbly and full of energy. As we start to photograph her, it’s hard to decide what’s more striking: her personality or her professionalism. When we ask her to pose, she has a lineup of choices prepared—and out of the 100 frames, there are only five we can’t use. She’s having a great time, and at the end of it all she wants a candid shot of everyone. “My first magazine photo shoot,� she declares. “I want a picture to send to my mom.�

Her mom has a lot to be proud of. Hayley got her big break at age 12, landing a role in The Sound of Music on Broadway. The National tour of Hairspray came next (at 19), followed by the movie version of Hairspray, where she joined a cast of stars including John Travolta, Queen Latifah and Michelle Pfeiffer. “I cried when I found out,� she says. “I was so thrilled to be a part of it.� As soon as she landed the movie role, she was asked to join the Broadway cast as Tammy. A solid triple threat, Hayley is a dancer (she’s studied tap, jazz and ballet since age 5), singer (she takes daily voice lessons) and actress (she studied the craft for a year at the Boston Conservatory and at NYU’s summer program at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute).

Hayley attributes her work ethic to her hometown studio, Martha-Marley School of Voice and Dance in Overland Park, KS. “We were taught at a young age that you have to know every style and every part. You have to be willing to switch places if asked and not complain. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the back row, because sometimes that’s what the job requires,� she says. Between technique classes and rehearsals for various performance groups, she danced from 4 pm to 10:30 pm daily. It was this demanding schedule that taught her how to multitask and prepared her for dancing in national tours, on Broadway and on film.

Since 2005, Hayley has lived, danced and breathed the role of Tammy—and learned a lot about show business. Dancing for film proved to be very different from the stage. “We had partnered lifts, turns and leaps, all while wearing three-inch heels and long dresses,� she says. “It was intense dancing, and we often had to perform full-out at 4 am after sitting in our trailers all day.� With film, you don’t get immediate feedback on your performance—but once it’s released, you have a record of it forever. “But when I’m running around the stage,� she says, “I can feel energy from the audience. It’s instant happiness.�

Her advice for breaking into Broadway: Get to know the show, the character and the style of dancing before the audition, and plan accordingly. “When I auditioned for Hairspray, I went in with teased hair, a blue headband, a polka dot tank top and jazz pants, but when I auditioned for The Phantom of the Opera I wore pink tights, a leotard and I pulled my hair back,� she says. Also, she adds, just be happy to be there, and show excitement no matter what you’re asked to do. To cope with rejection, remind yourself that there will always be another part, another show and another audition.

Currently, Hayley dances as much as she can, works with a personal trainer, takes singing lessons and continues to work towards her dreams. “I want to originate a role on Broadway,� she says. “I also want to direct, do more films and work with a show from the beginning. But right now, I just want to get a dog and watch ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’�  

Check out our 11 other young Broadway stars from shows like The Phantom of the Opera, Legally Blonde: The Musical, Wicked, A Chorus Line, and Spring Awakening!

Latest Posts

Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo courtesy of Brittany Conigatti

Go Behind the Scenes of Annie Live! With Brittany Conigatti

Unwrap your candy canes, pour the hot chocolate and round up your fellow theater lovers: NBC is kicking off the Christmas season with its latest live-broadcast TV musical. Annie Live! premieres December 2 and features a star-studded cast, including Harry Connick Jr., Tituss Burgess, Megan Hilty and, as the title character, young phenom Celina Smith.

Luckily, people got a taste of what the special will entail when the cast kicked off the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with a performance last week. But since you’re never fully dressed without a Dance Spirit exclusive, we caught up with Brittany Conigatti, one of the young orphans and adult ensemble members in the show, to learn what it was like putting together a large-scale live production for the small screen.

The cast of Annie Live! poses for a group photo. The cast of Annie Live!Photo courtesy of Conigatti

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search