Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Musical of the Month: Hairspray

As we live in another age of civil unrest and protests for equality, racial justice, it seems more than appropriate to celebrate Hairspray as Musical of the Month. This week, we'll take a look at the background of the show, its impressive Broadway statistics, and other major productions.

Musical of the Month:
Origins, Stats and Productions


Hairspray the musical is based on the John Waters film of the same name. That cult classic movie was based on Waters' experiences as a teen in 1960's Baltimore, where he saw first-hand the injustice of segregation and racism. Set against a backdrop of "normalcy": high school, working-class values, the not-so-subtly subversive plot also basked in the glow of quintessential Baltimore, with its teen TV dance show and famously high hairdo'd Hons. (I can tell you that this cultural phenomenon continues to this day in Charm City.) Their famously generous, inclusive spirit serves to highlight the capacity for good with a healthy dose of hilarity.


The Stats:
  • Previews began on July 18, 2002, with an opening night on August 15, 2002 at the Neil Simon Theatre.
  • Hairspray was nominated for 13 2003 Tony Awards, winning 8, including Best Musical, Best Book, Best Score, Best Direction (Jack O'Brien), Best Actor (Harvey Fierstein), Best Actress (Marissa Jaret Winokur) and Best Featured Actor (Dick Latessa).
  • The Drama Desk Awards honored the show with 14 nominations, with 10 wins, including Best Musical.
  • Both Marissa Jaret Winokur and Jackie Hoffman earned Theatre World Awards for their performances.
  • The show closed on January 4, 2009 following 31 previews and 2,642 performances.

Stage Productions:

Pre-Broadway: Hairspray's world premiere took place at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre.

West End:
In 2007, Hairspray opened in London, starring Michael Ball as Edna, Leanne Jones as Tracy, and Tracie Bennett as Velma. The production was nominated for a record-breaking 10 Olivier Awards, and won three, including Best Musical, Best Actor and Actress.

Royal Caribbean:
The cruise ship giant produced a shortened, but spectacular version of the show that played 4 performances each week.

Other Productions: Hairspray has had several national and international tours, a Las Vegas production, international productions, including in Australia and Argentina. In 2011, there was an all-star production at the Hollywood Bowl, again starring Fierstein and Winokur, along with Drew Carey, Corbin Bleu, Susan Anton, John Stamos, Darlene Love and Nick Jonas.

As of this writing, a brand new revival, again directed by Jack O'Brien and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell is in the works, with its premiere set for the Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore.

We'll be discussing the filmed version of the show later this month.


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