Shannon Durig has been starring on Broadway for many years with rave reviews as Tracy Turnblad in the hit musical Hairspray. She just recently celebrated her 1,000th performance in the role. Not a bad first lead role for a New York transplant who had big dreams as a tiny tot in Kansas of first starring on Broadway, then film and television.
Born and raised in Overland Park, KS Shannon began dance classes at the tender age of three. Before age 10 she was chosen to be a part of a dance troupe that toured all over the world. By age 12 she was so skilled at her craft that she was earning extra money by teaching dance classes and private dance lessons. Shannon furthered her dance training during high school when she made the trek across country to NY to study with award-winning instructors during summer and spring breaks. All the while honing her acting skills in such regional productions as They’re Playing Our Song, Peter Pan and Grease.
Through all the years of hopes, dreams, training and performances one dark lingering cloud remained a constant in Shannon’s world, and that was a lifelong battle with her weight. Ridicule in school had her regularly coming home in tears. People close to her tried to discourage her from the entertainment path she had chosen, only to protect her, but as Shannon puts it, "I knew early on what I was destined to do and nothing was going to stop me.” That "heartbreak” only made her stronger. "It made me work harder than ever to prove myself,” she said. "Body image was and is such a huge factor in society, especially in the entertainment industry. I want young girls to value themselves and know that what’s on the inside matters more than what’s on the outside."
After high school, at age 19, Shannon packed her bags and moved to NY to attend AMDA (American Musical Dramatic Academy). She put herself through school by waiting tables in the evenings until the wee hours of the morning. A few short months after graduating, Shannon read about an open call for the first National Tour of Hairspray. She stood in line along with 1,100 other hopefuls that wrapped around four city blocks. The producers and casting agents were impressed so much that she was immediately hired as the understudy for Tracy Turnblad on Broadway. After two years and 200 shows as the understudy the call of a lifetime came when she was elevated from the understudy for Tracy and offered the starring role. New York is home for now and the Hairspray stage is where night after night the sound of applause and seeing the crowd on their feet is a constant reminder that dreams really do come true. "I am so very blessed,” Shannon says. "I am grateful every day that I get to do this for a living. This is a blast and I have only just begun. I still have a lot of things on my list.” For more info on Shannon visit ShannonDurig.com.