Is that Hairspray in the air?
Through the mists of Ultra Clutch hairspray drifting across the Neil Simon stage, lovable Tracy Turnblad awaits her chance to be crowned Miss Big Hit of 2002-2003. Aug. 15, the critics will have a chance to voice their opinions of the Broadway phenomenon that is the Marc Shaiman-Scott Wittman-Mark O'Donnell-Thomas Meehan musical comedy based on John Waters film.
Hairspray buzz began with a heavy spritz when reviews from far-off Seattle came in glowing and the musical started selling $40,000 to $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 to $150,000 a day. With a second week of previews underway and Producers-like word of mouth, the daily total was between $240,000 and $250,000. For its final full week of previews, Hairspray garnered $722,688's worth of ticket sales, playing at 95.8% capacity.
Hairspray began previews July 18 at the newly renovated Neil Simon Theatre. The opening comes two days after the Hairspray original cast album was released by Sony Classical. Since its release, Amazon.com has been ranking the album in its top 20 sellers alongside popular titles by Counting Crows, Eva Cassidy and Dixie Chicks. Marissa Jaret Winokur (Grease!, Hair) and Harvey Fierstein (Torch Song Trilogy) headline the company as Plain Jane Tracy Turnblad and her plump mother Edna, respectively. Also featured are Kerry Butler (Bat Boy) as Tracy's ditzy best friend Penny Pingleton, Dick Latessa (Cabaret, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) as loving father and husband Wilbur Turnblad, Matthew Morrison (Footloose) as teen dreamboat Link Larkin and Clarke Thorell (Saturday Night, Titanic) as dance revue host Corny Collins.
Also in the cast are Laura Bell Bundy as the evil seed Amber Von Tussle, Linda Hart as her villianous mother, Velma, Mary Bond Davis as soulful DJ MotorMouth Mabel, Corey Reynolds as Penny's love interest, Seaweed, and Danelle Wilson as Seaweed's little sister, 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 (The Life), 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." When lovable, chubby Tracy Turnblad defeats the show's reigning queen, Amber Von Tussle, the girl's evil, bigoted mother, a former beauty queen, wants revenge. Turnblad's own parents, however, are there to make sure Tracy stays on top. In the course of her rise, Tracy falls for, wins and then loses the handsomest boy on "Corny Collins. She even winds up in jail where she learns love and integration are worth the fight.
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," "(The Legend of) Miss Balitmore Crabs," "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" "I Know Where I've Been," "Cooties" and "You Can't Stop the Beat."
For tickets in New York ($65-$100), 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.