Hairspray may have had the unfortunate position of being the first new musical of the 2002-2003 season, but it looks like the Marc Shaiman-Scott Wittman-Mark O'Donnell-Thomas Meehan musicalization of the cult John Waters film is on its way to becoming the first hit of the season.
The press certainly hasn't been this good to a show since The Producers opened all of two seasons ago, but the box office numbers are backing up the journalistic good feeling.
Hairspray buzz began with a trickle when reviews from far-off Seattle came in glowing and the musical started selling $40,000 $60,000 worth of tickets a day. After New York Magazine ran a thick article on the show in the July 22, 2002 issue, ticket sales went up again — to some $120,000-$150,000 a day. With a second week of previews underway and Producers-like word of mouth, the daily total is now between $240,000-$250,000.
Should that keep up, the $10.5 million show could be paid off in a month and a half. And should the daily gross increase? Well...
Hairspray began previews July 18 at the newly renovated Neil Simon Theatre. The Marc Shaiman-Scott Wittman-Mark O'Donnell-Thomas Meehan musicalization of the cult John Waters film is set to open Aug. 15, two days after its original cast album is released by Sony Classical. Marissa Jaret Winokur (Grease!, Hair) and Harvey Fierstein (Torch Song Trilogy) headline the company 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 Amber Von Tussle, Linda Hart as her mother, Velma, 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 Grenfell, Jackie Hoffman (Obie Award for The Book of Liz), Hollie Howard, Katharine Leonard, Kamilah Martin, Rashad Naylor, Judine Richard, Peter Matthew Smith, Todd Michel Smith, Shayna Steele (Rent), Brooke Tansley and Joel Vig.
"Hairspray," which, in Waters' film form, 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 then the girl's evil, bigoted parents want revenge. Turnblad's own parents, however, are there to make sure Tracy stays on top. In the course of her rise, Tracy falls for and wins the handsomest boy on "Corny Collins," winds up in jail and integrates the dance program.
Hairspray's 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," "Positivity," "The New Girl in Town," "It Takes Two," "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."
For tickets in New York ($65-$95), call (212) 307 4100. The Neil Simon Theatre is located at 250 W. 52nd Street. Hairspray is on the web at http://www.hairsprayonbroadway.com.