With two weeks to go before the musical Hairspray even sets on the stage of the Neil Simon Theatre for its first Broadway preview, news breaks that a national tour of the production will begin in Baltimore in September 2003. According to The Baltimore Sun, the stageplay adapted from the John Waters' 1988 cult film will launch from The Morris A. Mechanic Theatre in downtown Baltimore.
Waters was quoted as saying "All the scary optimism lately is making me nervous, but I can't think of a better place in the whole world for it to start." No further dates have been announced. At press time, the news could not be confirmed by production spokespersons.
With a string of impressive reviews behind them, the cast and creators of Hairspray aren't waiting for the blessings of the New York press — or even a New York audience — to lay down the sure-to-be-a hit musical's score. The Hairspray company entered the studio June 30 and July 1 for the original cast recording set for an Aug. 13 intended Sony Classical release date.
The album can be pre-ordered from Amazon by clicking here. The tuner ended its world premiere engagement at Seattle's Fifth Avenue Theatre June 23 touting raves from local and national press. The Marc Shaiman-Scott Wittman-Mark O'Donnell-Thomas Meehan musicalization of the cult John Waters film is expected at Broadway's renovated and expanded Neil Simon Theatre July 18 for a New York opening Aug. 15.
Marissa Jaret Winokur (Grease!, Hair!) and Harvey Fierstein (Torch Song Trilogy) headline the cast as Tracy Turnblad and her mother Edna, respectively. Also featured are Kerry Butler (Bat Boy) as Penny Pingleton, Dick Latessa (Cabaret, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) as Wilbur Turnblad, Matthew Morrison (Footloose) as Link Larkin and Clarke Thorell (Saturday Night, Titanic) as Corny Collins.
Also in the cast are Laura Bell Bundy as the villainous Amber Von Tussle, Mary Bond Davis as MotorMouth Mabel, Corey Reynolds as Seaweed and Danelle Wilson as Little Inez. The ensemble includes Eric Anthony, Shoshana Bean (Godspell), Joshua Bergasse, Eric Dysart, Adam Fleming, Jennifer Gambatese, Greg Graham, Danielle Lee Greaves (Rent), David Greenspan (The Wax), Katy Grengell, Linda Hart, Jackie Hoffman (Obie Award for The Book of Liz), Hollie Howard, Katherine Leonard, Kamilah Martin, Matthew Morrison, Rashad Naylor, Judine Richard, Peter Matthew Smith, Todd Michael Smith, Shayna Steele (Rent), Brooke Tansley and Joel Vig.
"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.
According to the Seattle synopsis, the score includes the following numbers: "Good Morning, Baltimore," "The Nicest Kids in Town," "Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now," "I Can Hear the Bells," "Velma's Cha Cha," "Positivity," "The New Girl in Town," "It Takes Two," "Velma's Cha Cha (Reprise)," "Welcome to the '60's," "Run and Tell That," "Big, Blonde and Beautiful," "The Big Dollhouse," "Good Morning, Baltimore (Reprise)," "Timeless to Me," "Without Love" and "You Can't Stop the Beat."
Composer and five-time Oscar nominee 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).
For tickets ($65-$95), call 212-307-4100. Box office sales at the Neil Simon Theatre (250 W. 52nd Street) began May 20. Hairspray is on the web at http://www.hairsprayonbroadway.com.