Hairspray, the new musical based on the cult John Waters film, will see Seattle before New York City. Casting notices from the Bernard Telsey agency point to a late May run at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre with New York's Neil Simon Theatre (which comes available after Elaine Stritch's limited run there) to follow in late July for an August 2002 opening. Harvey Fierstein (Torch Song Trilogy) is set to star in the Divine role.
Composer Marc Shaiman works with his frequent collaborator Scott Wittman 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 Mitchel (The Full Monty). An upcoming workshop of the piece will feature Kerry Butler (Bat Boy).
"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 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.