Marissa Jaret Winokur, who made her Broadway debut in the Grease! revival and appeared in the Reprise! concert staging of Hair! will be putting her hair in a Maryland beehive `do' for her next assignment: the starring role in Hairspray, the new, Broadway-bound musical based on the cult John Waters film. Winokur will play Tracy Turnblad, the plain jane, TV-dance show devotee essayed by Ricki Lake in the movie.
Winokur's resume boasts numerous sitcom credits ("Moesha," "Dharma and Greg") and turns in the flicks "Scary Movie" and "American Beauty." According to the Richard Kornberg press office (reached Feb. 7), she and Harvey Fierstein (in the Divine role) are the only actors officially signed for the tuner. Workshops of the show also featured Bat Boy's Kerry Butler, and her official website, www.kerrybutler.net, says she's "signed on to play the role of Penny Pingleton."
Hairspray will play May 30-June 23 at the Fifth Avenue Theatre in Seattle and officially open there June 12. It will then come to Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre July 18 for an opening Aug. 15 and an open run.
Composer and five-time Oscar nominee Marc Shaiman ("South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut," "Sleepless in Seattle," "The American President") works with his frequent collaborator Scott Wittman (Patti LuPone's "matters of the heart") on the musical. Mark O'Donnell and Tony Award winner Thomas Meehan (The Producers, Annie) wrote the book. 2001 double Tony Award nominee Jack O'Brien (The Invention of Love, The Full Monty) directs with choreography by Jerry Mitchell (The Full Monty). Designing the show are David Rockwell (set), Kenneth Posner (lighting), William Ivey Long (costumes).
"Hairspray," which starred Ricki Lake, Sonny Bono and Waters perennial Divine, is set in 1962 Baltimore, where the girl with the biggest hair and the best moves can obtain fame on the city's number one dance revue, "The Corny Collins Show." Plain Jane Tracy Turnblad defeats the show's reigning queen, Amber Von Tussle, but now the girl's evil parents want revenge. Turnblad's own parents (played in the film by Divine and Jerry Stiller), however, are there to make sure Tracy stays on top. Shaiman most wanted to draft Fierstein for the Divine role. Fierstein, of Torch Song Trilogy renown, is not known for his singing finesse, but did show off his pipes in Disney's "Mulan" and his cabaret evening, "This Is Not Going to be Pretty."
While "South Park" catapulted Shaiman to some sort of cult musical theatre fame, he is not new to the New York City stage. Musicals he's penned (both as composer and co-lyricist) include Livin' Dolls, Going Down, Dementos, The G String Murders and Laura Kenyon's Trilogy of Terror. Of course, in Hollywood, he's known as a film composer; his scores have included "The Kid," "When Harry Met Sally," "Sister Act" and four Academy Award-nominated scores: "Sleepless in Seattle," "The American President," "The First Wives Club" and "Patch Adams." A multi faceted musician, he has also musical-directed and arranged for some Broadway big names like Nathan Lane Patti LuPone, Andrea Martin and Martin Short, not to mention Bette Midler and Barbara Streisand.