With “Sound of Music,” “Peter Pan,” “The Wiz” and “Grease” topping the charts, musical adaptations are the best thing to hit networks since reality television. Still on the way are FOX’s “Rocky Horror Picture Show” and NBC’s “Hairpsray,” which just announced the behind-the-scenes talent.
NBC added some of Broadway’s finest and most talented creatives for its upcoming production of “Hairspray Live,” the telecast will air Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
“In keeping with our desire to bring the best of Broadway to our live musicals, we’ve assembled the Broadway
dream team of Tony Award winners for ‘Hairspray Live,’” said Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment. “We’re thrilled to have director Kenny Leon, who knocked ‘The Wiz Live’ way out of the park, and Jerry Mitchell, the original choreographer of ‘Hairspray’ and who is the director of two smash hit musicals running on Broadway right now.
“We also have one of the most celebrated Broadway hyphenates, Harvey Fierstein, back writing the adaptation for TV. No one knows ‘Hairspray’ better than him since he played the role of Edna Turnblad more than a thousand times and won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. Along with our incredible producing team of Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, and arguably the best songwriting team in musicals, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, ‘Hairspray Live’ is in the best possible hands.”
Kenny Leon is a Tony Award-winning Broadway director who received raves for his work on NBC’s “The Wiz Live.” His 2014 Broadway credits include hip-hop musical “Holler If Ya Hear Me” and the revival of “A Raisin in the Sun,” which starred Denzel Washington, Anika Noni Rose, Sophie Okonedo and LaTanya Richardson Jackson, and earned Leon a Tony for Best Director. “A Raisin in the Sun” also won Best Revival of a Play. Leon was also nominated in 2010 for the Broadway production of “Fences.” He received a 2009 DGA nomination for the television adaptation of “A Raisin in the Sun.” Other small-screen credits include TV movies “Steel Magnolias” “In My Dreams,” and “The Watsons Go to Birmingham,” as well as television shows such as “Ghost Whisperer” and “Private Practice.”
Jerry Mitchell, who won a Tony in 2005 as choreographer of “La Cage aux Folles,” won his second Tony in 2013 as choreographer for the Broadway hit “Kinky Boots,” for which he was also nominated as director. He also serves as director for the current Broadway musical “On Your Feet,” inspired by the career of Gloria Estefan, as well as director and choreographer of the upcoming Broadway musical “Gotta Dance.” Mitchell’s theater resume is a who’s who of some of Broadway’s most popular shows, including “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway,” “Legally Blonde” “The Full Monty,” “The Rocky Horror Show,” “Gypsy,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” and the original production of “Hairspray,” which opened at the Neil Simon Theatre in 2002.
Harvey Fierstein, who will write the teleplay, brings a deep-rooted understanding of “Hairspray Live,” having worked on the original script as well as adapting the show for its Las Vegas and Hollywood Bowl productions. Fierstein also created the role of Edna for the stage version for which he won the Tony in 2003. As an actor, he is a member of an elite group who have won Tonys as Best Actor in a Musical (“Hairspray”) and Best Actor in a Play (for his own “Torch Song Trilogy”). As a writer, Fierstein won Tonys for “La Cage Aux Folles” and “Torch Song Trilogy,” and received three more Tony nominations for writing “Kinky Boots,” “Newsies” and “Casa Valentina.” His adaptation of “Funny Girl” is currently running, along with “Kinky Boots,” in London.
Songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman collaborated on the Broadway production of “Hairspray,” each winning the Tony and Grammy for Best Original Score. Shaiman is also an Emmy winner and five-time Oscar nominee. Their 2011 musical “Catch Me If You Can” was nominated for Best Musical and their most recent show, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” is a long-running hit on London’s West End. They are currently co-writing the film sequel to Disney’s “Mary Poppins.” Working closely with executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the duo were also the musical force behind the NBC drama “Smash,” receiving two Emmy nominations for their songs.
Craig Zadan and Neil Meron produced all three of NBC’s recent holiday musicals — “The Sound of Music Live,” “Peter Pan Live” and “The Wiz Live” — as well as the big-screen adaptions of “Hairspray,” “Footloose,” “The Bucket List” and the Oscar-winning Best Picture “Chicago.” Last year the pair produced the 87th Oscar telecast, which was their third consecutive Oscars. In addition to Emmy Award nominations for “The Sound of Music Live” and the Oscars, Zadan and Meron have been nominated for TV works that include “Gypsy,” “Cinderella,” “Annie,” “The Beach Boys: An American Family,” “Life With Judy Garland” and “A Raisin in the Sun.” Zadan and Meron were also Tony nominated in 2011 for their Broadway revival of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”
The cast for “Hairspray Live” will be announced at a later date.