|Photo by Krissie Fullerton|
Before 2002, I already knew Marc Shaiman as the piano player for the hilarious Sweeney Sisters sequences on "Saturday Night Live" and via his cartoon appearance as Big Gay Al's accompanist in "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut," as well as several other onscreen appearances. And I knew Shaiman's work as arranger and general musical genius behind many albums I treasured, particularly the soundtracks for the movies "Beaches," "Sister Act" and "When Harry Met Sally." I was a huge fan of Scott Wittman's work conceiving and directing theatrical concerts for Patti LuPone and I knew he and Shaiman had created original Off-Broadway musicals together in years past.
I was aware of their talents, but nothing could have prepared me for Hairspray. I love all of John Waters' movies, but truth be told, "Hairspray" isn't my favorite and as we all know, when movies are adapted into Broadway musicals, they don't always come out as well as we might hope! I wouldn't say my expectations were low, but what I experienced when I first saw the show was staggering, and I returned to see the production five more times over the course of its six-plus-year run. I can count only a handful of new musicals I've seen in my lifetime which have filled a Broadway theatre so richly. This must have been what it was like to see the original productions of Fiddler On The Roof, Funny Girl and Hello, Dolly! I felt that way right from the top of the opening number — the first time I ever heard a Shaiman and Wittman song.
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