What do the composer of "South Park, Bigger, Longer & Uncut" and the director-choreographer of Cabaret and "Annie" have in common? Well, they're both Emmy Award winners to be sure, but now it's a project based on camp film director John Waters' 1988 movie "Hairspray" that brings music man Marc Shaiman and Broadway helmer Rob Marshall together. The two are deep into the second act of a musical version of Hairspray, tentatively aiming for a fall 2001 bow.
Shaiman will work with his frequent collaborator Scott Wittman on the musical. Mark O'Donnell wrote the book. According to Marshall's representative, the first act is finished, but the second is still being crafted. A reading of the first act was recently given at New York Theatre Workshop.
"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. Her own parents (played in the film by Divine and Jerry Stiller), however, are there to make sure she stays on top.
Shaiman recently expressed in a Los Angeles Times interview that his hope is to draft actor Harvey Fierstein (Torch Song Trilogy) 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. After receiving Tony nominations for Kiss of the Spider Woman, She Loves Me, Damn Yankees and Little Me, Marshall took one home for co-directing and choreographing Cabaret. Emmy-nominated for Disney's "Cinderella" and "Mrs. Santa Claus" starring Angela Lansbury, he won the award for 1999's "Annie."