The Beat Goes On: Winokur Is Back as Tracy in Broadway's Hairspray

By Kenneth Jones
09 Dec 2008

Marissa Jaret Winokur
Marissa Jaret Winokur

Tony Award winner Marissa Jaret Winokur jumps back into the saddle shoes of Tracy Turnblad the role for which she won a Tony in Broadway's Hairspray starting Dec. 9 at the Neil Simon Theatre. She joins her original Tony-winning "mama," Harvey Fierstein, who has already re-joined the troupe for its final weeks.

As previously announced, Hairspray, based on the 1988 John Waters film comedy, will close Jan. 4, 2009. When it ends, the musical will have played 2,641 performances and 31 previews at the Neil Simon Theatre.

Winokur enjoyed recent acclaim as a contestant on TV's hit show "Dancing With the Stars." For her turn as Tracy, the young newcomer won the 2003 Tony for Best Actress in a Musical.

Winokur also won the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Theater World awards for Hairspray. She is known for her portrayal of Janine in "American Beauty." Other films include "Fever Pitch," "Scary Movie," "Teaching Mrs. Tingle," "Never Been Kissed" and "Beautiful Girl" (for ABC Family). She started her career as Jan in the Broadway revival of Grease!

The Tony Award-winning Hairspray, which spawned tours, a London production and a Hollywood movie version, got an extra spritz of glitter Nov. 11: Original Tony Award-winning star Harvey Fierstein came back for the final eight weeks of the Broadway run.



Four-time Tony Award winner Fierstein reprises his 2003 Tony-winning performance as "the dangerously devoted stage mother Edna Turnblad," for which he slipped into a drab housecoat only to transform into a butterfly by Act Two. He won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his turn as Turnblad. His mantel already includes Tonys for Best Play (Torch Song Trilogy), Best Actor in a Play (Torch Song Trilogy) and Best Book of a Musical (La Cage aux Folles).

In Hairspray, "it's 1962 the '50s are out and change is in the air. Baltimore's Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, has only one passion to dance. She wins a spot on the local TV dance program, 'The Corny Collins Show' and, overnight, is transformed from outsider to irrepressible teen celebrity. But can a trendsetter in dance and fashion vanquish the program's reigning princess, win the heart of heartthrob Link Larkin, and integrate a television show without denting her 'do?"

Hairspray also features Karen Mason as Velma Von Tussle, Tevin Campbell as Seaweed J. Stubbs, Charlotte Crossley as Motormouth Maybelle, Kate Loprest as Amber Von Tussle, Ken Marks as Wilbur Turnblad, Kevin Meaney as Male Authority Figure, Susan Mosher as Female Authority Figure, Constantine Rousouli as Link Larkin, Niki Scalera as Penny Pingleton, Clarke Thorell as Corny Collins and Melissa VanPelt as Inez.

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Hairspray has currently grossed over $265 million during its Broadway run. The musical has book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan and a score by Marc Shaiman (music and lyrics) and Scott Wittman (lyrics). Jack O'Brien directed. (They all won Tony Awards for the work, and choreographer Jerry Mitchell was nominated).

Hairspray had its world premiere at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre on June 12, 2002.

The musical opened on Broadway Aug. 15, 2002, to ecstatic reviews and later that season went on to win every major Best Musical award, including the Tony Award, New York Drama Critics Circle Award, Drama Desk Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award. In all Hairspray won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book of a Musical, Best Direction, Best Actor in a Musical, Best Actress in a Musical, Best Featured Actor in a Musical, and Best Costume Design.

The success of the 2007 film and the Broadway show has prompted New Line to engage original Hairspray creator John Waters to write a treatment for a sequel to the musical film, which would include new songs by Shaiman & Wittman, and is tentatively scheduled to be released in summer 2010.

In 2007 a production of Hairspray opened in London's West End, starring Michael Ball, and was named Best New Musical in the Olivier Awards. It continues there.

For Hairspray ticket information, phone Ticketmaster at (212) 307-4100, or for group sales, phone (212) 302-7000 or (800) 677-1164.

Same-day, lottery tickets are sold at the box office for seats in the first row of the orchestra. For more information about Hairspray, visit www.hairsprayonbroadway.com.