‘Hairspray’ Is Officially the Next NBC Live Musical
Get ready for Hairspray Live!
At NBC’s panel at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour today, network chairman Bob Greenblatt announced that Hairspray would be the next NBC live musical. Executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will return for the fourth time, following their successes with The Sound of Music, Peter Pan and The Wiz. Reportedly, the deal for Hairspray was closed just minutes prior to the NBC panel.
A Tony-winning Broadway musical, which was based on the 1988 film by John Waters, Hairspray centers on young Tracy Turnblad, who earns a spot on a knock-off version of American Bandstand in Baltimore in the 1960s, and does her best to kickstart racial integration in the process. It’s a quirky, charming show, and it’s got great music thanks to the Tony-winning score from Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. So while I’m kind of disappointed that NBC once again neglected to just do The Music Man already, I think this has more potential to be a hit than Peter Pan or The Wiz did. Of course, this production succeeding relies on numerous factors we can’t really predict right now: for one, no cast announcements have been made, considering this is a deal that had just been struck at the last minute. Also, we’ve been given no indication that NBC plans to film this show in front of a live studio audience. If nothing else, that seems like a no-brainer now that we’re going on three years of live musicals with long, awkward silences between numbers, and actors gesturing out to audience members who aren’t there. However, one thing we do know is that NBC is apparently taking the insane length of these shows into consideration.
“The Sound of Music was the right length, The Wiz was a little short, while Peter Pan felt like it should’ve have been shorter,” Greenblatt noted. But he was quick to add, after the audience cracked up at the indirect Peter Pan dig, “I don’t mean that disparagingly!”
So here’s hoping they find a way to keep these live musicals from getting bloated. That said, I’m more interested in the casting than anything else right now. Edna Turnblad is a great part, and could be an awesome role for an actor willing to reinvent himself. I feel the same way about the role of Corny Collins. As for Tracy, I think they’ll go with another unknown like they did with Shanice Williams in The Wiz. Either way, this has the potential to be NBC’s best live musical yet, even though I sincerely doubt it’ll do the massive ratings The Sound of Music Live! did.
What do you think of NBC picking Hairspray as their next musical? If not this, what should NBC have chosen? Sound off in the comments!
And for more from TCA 2016, find out when Showtime’s Twin Peaks will premiere!