Sunday in Depth #9: Hairspray Live!


It was recently announced that Ariana Grande will join the cast of the upcoming Hairspray Live! After the success that was Grease Live!, Kenny Leon now has his chance at making a televised musical. And personally I think this one is going to be the best entry into the genre yet. I think Leon will learn from the victories and losses of its predecessors and I think the cast is stellar. I really think it will work. I really hope it will.

The show will be directed by Kenny Leon who has directed a handful of stage shows and plays. He’s most notable for directing revivals of A Streetcar Named Desire and A Raisin in the Sun as well as the Elton John musical Aida. Most importantly however is his direction of The Wiz Live! which was also a pretty good televised musical. Leon is more than ready to take on this show I believe, and I think he can do new stuff with this contemporary art form. The show which relies heavily on the choreography is choreographed by Jerry Mitchell who won the Tony Award for best choreography for his work in Kinky Boots.

The cast as well is very strong. The gurgle-voiced Harvey Fierstein is going to lead the ensemble cast as Edna Turnblad, a role he’s played before (and won a Tony for). Playing his husband, Wilbur, is the wonderful Martin Short who is absolutely perfect for the role in my opinion and is the one reason I’m truly excited for “You’re Timeless to Me”.  The rest of the cast is also perfect for their roles. Kristin Chenoweth is perfect for Velma Von Tussle, Ariana Grande is perfect for Penny Pingleton, Jennifer Hudson is perfect for Motormouth Maybelle, and Derek Hough is perfect for Corny Collins.


But the most significant reason that I believe this show will succeed is because of trend we’ve seen with these shows. Every single one has one-upped the previous. The adaptation of Grease was pretty good, so I expect this one to be very good. And I should also mention that Hairspray is also just a better musical than Grease and The Wiz and all the others. I am really looking forward to see this one. I really am.


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