What Was Different in This Version of Hairspray?

Special Features   What Was Different in This Version of Hairspray?
We compare and contrast the Broadway version and the NBC broadcast.
Maddie Baillio, Ephraim Sykes, and cast Chris Haston/NBC

Hairspray has had many incarnations: the 1988 John Waters film, starring Ricki Lake; the 2002 Tony Award-winning musical; the 2007 musical film adaptation; and, as of December 7, the live televised version on NBC.

Though the show kept extremely close to the musical that debuted on Broadway over a decade ago, there were a few differences between the original stage production and the NBC broadcast that was staged on the Universal Studios lots in Los Angeles, CA. Here are some of the major differences.

My Place or Yours?
In the scene where Tracy Turnblad is sentenced to detention, she meets Seaweed J. Stubbs, who shows off his dance moves she’ll later use to score a spot on The Corny Collins Show. What once was called “Peyton Place After Midnight” is now “My Place or Yours?” Peyton Place was an American primetime soap opera that aired during the ’60s. This was one of the few lines that were changed for the newly adapted script by Harvey Fierstein. Fierstein also added a reference to the megahit musical Hamilton when Link Larkin told Tracy that he was not throwing away his shot. (The words “my shot” were not in the original script.)

Maddie Baillio and Harvey Fierstein Justin Lubin/NBC

“Ladies’ Choice”
The number was originally created for the 2007 musical film adaptation for the character of Link, played on film by Zac Efron, but in this version it was performed by Derek Hough as Corny Collins. Fierstein said that the number replaced the “Madison,” which was used in the original Broadway production because choreographer Jerry Mitchell wanted to utilize Hough’s dance skills in the number. He certainly did—Hough pulled out all of his moves at the high school dance.

“The Big Dollhouse”
The second act opening number on Broadway, “The Big Dollhouse,” was cut from the live broadcast. Tracy was the only one from the group who was locked up during the protest on Mother-Daughter Day; therefore, there was no need for a big number with all of the show’s leading ladies behind bars. However, it changed parts of the plot—Wilbur Turnblad never mortgaged his joke shop, The Har-De-Har Hut, to bail out the women, and Penny Lou Pingleton wasn’t punished for going to jail without permission (just for “living without permission”!).

Breaking Out
Speaking of jail, during the stage version of “Without Love,” Link actually comes to Tracy’s rescue and breaks her out—using a can of hairspray, of course! With the help of his Zippo lighter and a travel-sized can of Ultra Clutch, Link creates an “E-Z Bake Oven kind of blowtorch” to break through the bars. It always gets a big laugh from the audience because the cell bars break in the form of Tracy. Instead, on the live broadcast, the very strong hair-hopper broke through the jail bars herself!

Motormouth’s Mouth
In the staged version, the character of Motormouth Maybelle always spoke in rhyme. In fact, she would enter with the line, “There’s platters of tunes and food on the table. What else would you expect from…. Ms. Motormouth Maybelle!” Here, her lines were slightly revised to be more colloquial. Rhymes or not, Jennifer Hudson still brought down the house with her numbers, “Big, Blonde and Beautiful” and “I Know Where I’ve Been.”



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