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HEY THERE BROADWAY FANS! The 74th Annual Tony Awards is just 22 DAYS AWAY. We at New York Broadway Tours are having a blast entertaining you all each morning with our TOP 50 TONY AWARDS COUNTDOWN. Truly the ultimate celebration of Live Theater’s return and sharing with you our favorite Broadway performances from previous Tony telecasts. Are you ready for more?!!!
At # 22 on our countdown, we travel to Baltimore, MD in the year 1962. There, we meet an average 16 year old girl with big hair, big dreams, and possibilities. After landing a main spot on her favorite after-school disc jockey dance show, this young girl is inspired and campaigns help change the world making it integrated. This is Hairspray. Based on the 1988 cult film by John Waters, the show features an original score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman along with a book by Mark O’Donnell & Thomas Meehan.
From the 2003 telecast, Tony winners Marissa Jaret Winokur as “Tracy Turnblad”, Harvey Fierstein as “Edna Turnblad”, and Dick Latessa as “Wilbur”, Tony nominees Matthew Morrison as “Link Larkin”, Kerry Butler as “Penny Lou Pingleton”, Corey Reynolds as “Seaweed J. Stubbs”, and Laura Bell Bundy as “Amber Von Tussle”, along, Mary Bond Davis as “Motormouth Mabel”, Linda Hart as “Velma Von Tussle”, Clarke Throrell as “Corny Collins”, and the full Ensemble perform the musical’s showstopping finale anthem YOU CAN’T STOP THE BEAT.
Hairspray was first conceived as a musical when producer Margo Lion saw the 1988 film on TV in the year 1998. She contacted Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman who were interested in the project. It began a long road of readings and workshops. The show had its official world premiere early 2002 in Seattle, Washington at The 5th Avenue Theatre where it was a sold out smash.
Following the triumph of the Seattle run, the show danced its way into Broadway’s Neil Simon Theatre a few months later in that same year running for a total of 2,642 performances. The show is still credited as the Neil Simon Theatre’s longest running show ever. Under the direction of Tony winner Jack O’Brien and choreographed by Tony winner Jerry Mitchell, the cast starred….
Tony winner Harvey Fierstein (later Michael McKean, Bruce Vilanch, Paul Vogt, John Pinette, Blake Hammond, and George Wendt) as “Edna Turnblad”,
Tony winner Marissa Jaret Winokur (later Kathy Brier, Carly Jibson, Shannon Durig, and Marissa Perry) as “Tracy Turnblad”,
Tony nominee Laura Bell Bundy (later Tracy Jai Edwards, Becky Gulsvig, Haylie Duff, Brynn O’Malley, Aubrey O’Day, and Ashley Spencer) as “Amber Von Tussle”,
Linda Hart (later Barbara Walsh, Leah Hocking, Liz Larsen, Isabelle Keating, and Karen Mason) as “Velma Von Tussle”,
Tony nominee Kerry Butler (later Jenn Gambatese, Caissie Levy, Diana DeGarmo, Tracy Miller, and Alexa PenaVega, and Niki Scalera) as “Penny Pingleton”,
Matthew Morrison (later Richard H. Blake, Andrew Rannells, Aaron Tviet, and Ashley Parker Angel) in his breakout role as “Link Larkin”,
Corey Reynolds (later Chester Gregory and Tevin Campbell) as “Seaweed J. Stubbs”,
Mary Bond Davis (later Darlene Love and Jennifer Lewis) as “Motormouth Mabel”,
Clarke Thorell (later Jonathan Dokuchitz and Lance Bass) as “Corny Collins”,
the late Tony winner Dick Latessa (later Stephen DeRosa, Jim J. Bullock, and Jere Burns) as “Wilbur Turnblad”,
and more.
HAIRSPRAY was nominated for 13 Tony Awards in 2003 winning 8 including BEST MUSICAL.
The show went on to become a worldwide hit. It’s played everywhere from touring North America, London’s West End, Australia, and more.
The musical version of HAIRSPRAY was also captured on film twice. The first remake of the original film (featuring songs from the musical and new songs) was released in 2007. Under the direction and choreography by Adam Shankman, it featured an all star cast including…
John Travolta as “Edna Turnblad”,
Nikki Blonsky as “Tracy Turnblad”,
Brittany Snow as “Amber Von Tussle”,
Michelle Pfieffer as “Velma Von Tussle”,
Amanda Bynes as “Penny Pingleton”,
Elijah Kelley as “Seaweed J. Stubbs”,
Queen Latifah as “Motormouth Mabel”,
Zac Effron as “Link Larken”,
James Marsden as “Corny Collins”,
Christopher Walken as “Wilbur Turnblad”,
and more.
The film went on to be nominated for 3 Golden Globes including BEST PICTURE but lost the categories.
Most recently, NBC presented a live televised production back in 2016. Under the direction of Kenny Leon and featuring the original Jerry Mitchell choreography, it included a full all-star cast led by….
Harvey Fierstein reprising his performance as “Edna Turnblad”,
Maddie Baillio as “Tracy Turnblad”,
Dov Cameron as “Amber Von Tussle”,
Kristin Chenoweth as “Velma Von Tussle”,
Ariana Grande as “Penny Pingleton”,
Ephraim M. Sykes as “Seaweed J. Stubbs”,
Garrett Clayton as Link Larken
Jennifer Hudson as “Motormouth Mabel”,
Derek Hough as “Corny Collins”,
Martin Short as “Wilbur,
and more.
Currently, the original production has been remounted in London’s West End at the London Coliseum celebrating the return of Live Theater following the COVID-19 pandemic which will be running for a few more weeks. It’s also scheduled to return to America coming up with a brand new North American National Touring company.
Today, HAIRSPRAY continues to be performed everywhere around the world. It’s been done in various schools, community, and regional theaters.
Doesn’t this show make you wanna dance?!!!
Mike Haber
Author: Mike Haber

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