30 Days Of The 2014 Tony Awards: Day #15 - HAIRSPRAY
Today we continue the 2014 edition of our annual BroadwayWorld feature series spotlighting the very best Tony Awards-related moments of all time with a special focus on a major hit 21st century musical with a pertinent and positive message of self-acceptance, HAIRSPRAY.
A musical based on a John Waters movie may seem highly dubious when considering the largely Las Vegas-esque, mostly family-friendly theme park-type attraction Broadway prominently features these days, yet HAISPRAY proved the quite vocal naysayers wrong when it debuted in 2002. After all, very few musicals contain this many larger-than-life personalities - from chunky but plucky Tracy Turnblad to her hefty hermetic mother, Edna, her daffy dad, Wilbur, to Tracy's spunky best friend, Penny, her prospective paramour, Link, and her pair of mother-daughter nemesises, Amber and Velma Von Tussle; not to mention record store owner Motormouth Maybelle and her triple-threat son, Seaweed - and HAIRSPRAY served them all up in the most appetizing and appealing of fashions. Giving panoramic Technicolor, vivid surround sound character color, shading and sound to the various characters, composing team of Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman crafted one of the most instantly enjoyably and endlessly earworm-packed scores in recent memory with their contributions to HAIRSPRAY and each one of the denizens of the 1960s Baltimore it evokes gets a showstopper to match their outlandish persona, complete with overflowing amounts of attitude, heart and humor.
HAIRSPRAY burst upon the scene in the 2002-2003 season as a frontrunner from the very outset, with the long-awaited onstage return of beloved Broadway veteran Harvey Fierstein at the center of the hubbub - with Fierstein effortlessly portraying the role made famous by drag icon Divine in the original feature film, no less. Along with Fierstein, newcomer Marissa Jaret Winokur ably filled Ricki Lake's cha-cha heels as Tracy and both took home Tony Awards for their efforts, as did featured actor Dick Latessa as the lovable toy store owner Wilbur. A more unique family Broadway has rarely witnessed onstage, but their palpable rapport was more than merely evident to see from even the very last row of the theater eight times a week.
In addition to Fierstein, Winokur and Latessa, 2003 Tony Awards were also given to Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman for Best Score, Thomas Meehan and Mark O'Donnell for Best Book, with Best Direction Of A Musical going to Jack O'Brian and Best Costume Design for William Ivey Long, as well. HAIRSPRAY also took home the top prize, Best Musical - without a hair ever moving out of place.
So, now, let's look at some of the most praise-worthy Tony Awards moments relating to HAIRSPRAY.
First, the original cast of HAIRSPRAY perform "You Can't Stop The Beat".
Next, see the cruise ship edition of the show perform on the Tony Awards in 2012.
Lastly, Marissa Jaret Winokur reminisces on her Tony win.
As a special bonus, take in the opening number of HAIRSPRAY as seen in this audience capture of the original production.
So, what precisely is it about HAIRSPRAY that makes it a modern-day classic in your humble estimation? Is it the universal message of self-empowerment at the core? The lovable characters? The fabulous score? Whatever made HAIRSPRAY a hit more than a decade ago continues to be amply evident to experience whenever we revisit it. For Broadway babies, HAIRSPRAY will most likely forever remain timeless to us.
From This Author Pat Cerasaro