The Director's Chair: Adam Shankman's Hairspray Diary #7
BroadwayWorld.com has an exclusive look into the making of the movie musical HAIRSPRAY with this special Director's Diary written by Adam Shankman. Check back daily for new entries!
ELEVEN HUNDRED TRACY'S
So the search for Tracy begins. David Rubin and Richard Hicks, my casting directors, have sent out a breakdown and posted on the internet that we are holding an open call basically all over the world (at least in all English speaking countries). This is going to be an interesting adventure trying to find this girl who needs to possess the following qualities:
1. Obviously, she must be seventeen. I don't want to "90210" this kind of casting, meaning I'd really like to find a girl who is at the very most, under 21 to play Tracy. I really want the teenagers to be real teenagers. That's very important to me because I want everybody to feel the honesty of Tracy's plight. Ricky Lake was that age and I think my new Tracy needs to be the same.
2. She needs to be really pretty. I want audiences to really root for her when Link leans in to give her the kiss. I want that to be as believable as possible.
3. Obviously she needs to be a girl of…well, size. John Waters told me he really doesn't want a plump girl playing Tracy. It's really important to him that I find a girl who is, well, not to put too fine a point on it, but, frankly, fat. And I don't mean Hollywood heavy. I want a girl who is the real deal.
4. She obviously needs to have a singing voice that soars with great honesty and be able to understand the styles of the late fifties and early sixties. I'd like her to sound a bit like Ronnie Spector at times. Good luck to me.
5. She needs to be able to dance. I'm going to be putting a lot of dancing into the movie that didn't exist in the play. In the play, in so many numbers, Jerry Mitchell, who did a fantastic job was handcuffed to the fact that the dancers had to be able to sing at the same time so they couldn't get overly athletic. I don't have that problem since all of my dancers are going to be able to lip synch. That doesn't mean that I am going to go for a Cirque Du Soleil approach, it just means that I can get really aggressive with the dancing.
This girl also needs to have confidence, courage, sweetness and exuberance. I know that I'm going to find her. I know she's out there. I'm combing the world. Every time there is an incarnation of this particular project, lightening strikes. I'm hoping that I'm going to be the lightening rod on this one and I can't wait to see who we discover.
A few weeks later…
So, I've been out doing location scouting, rehearsing with Mama and watching what feels like thousands of auditions from potential Tracy's on our casting service online. After every city I'm sent all the top candidates via internet from David and Richard. We found some interesting candidates. It looks to me like we are going to see about eleven-hundred girls. Eleven-hundred "Good Morning Baltimore's". Eleven-hundred "Mama I'm a Big Girl Now's". Frankly, sometimes my vision gets blurry watching the auditions over and over again. One girl did stick out to me though. She's a little girl from Great Neck. I can't remember her name. I think the guys told me that works in a Coldstone Creamery and that she was doing a production of "Sweeney Todd" in her high school. Who does "Sweeney Todd" in high school? Wow. She was very cute though. Very Tracy-like. I don't know, but I just keep returning to her audition.