The Director's Chair: Adam Shankman's Hairspray Diary #11 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!


So rehearsals begin in earnest. I have been working with Zach, Jamal, Joey and Mama now for a few weeks.  We've gotten most of the dance routines set.  We've started getting in the actors.  Lon Hoyt and Keith Cotton have come out to help with the music from New York. They work on the Broadway show, but have taken a little leave to help us with the movie.  Elaine Overholt, a voice coach who actually worked on "Chicago" with Craig and Neal and also myself, has flown out from Toronto to give vocal coaching and we are beginning with all of the kid's numbers.  There's going to be rigorous training for all of them for the next two months. They will be dancing for at least 4 hours a day and then rotating with each other for vocal rehearsals.  We are going to do all the recordings a week before we start shooting so, at that point, everyone will understand their parts and what they are doing choreographically, so that their vocals will match all of the different action. That means that we will just be rehearsing and rehearsing and rehearsing, hopefully just until right before they drop dead of exhaustion.  I have a feeling that nobody really knows what they are getting in to.  None of the lead cast are professional dancers but they can all move really well. It's going to be a really interesting challenge.  

Nikki, more than anybody I believe, might be a little shell-shocked with this kind of training. I don't believe that she has ever really been out of New York before and now we have moved her to Los Angeles to begin all this rehearsal.  It's become rather clear that she is going to need a little more work on the dancing than we had thought.  Simple weight changes are even difficult for her. We are going to assign her to Zach Woodlee. He's going to be her dance point-person spending most of the time in a small studio working with her.  

One of the other things that have become very clear is that none of the dancers understand the period movement. None of them have been exposed to it, none of them have studied it and why should they have?  They're all a bunch of teenagers.  Just teaching things like the pony, the twist and the mashed potato.  All of this movement is wholly unfamiliar to them and it is taking them a little more time than I thought to get.  But get it they will. If they don't, I'm toast.

I'm pretty much in love with all of them as people. Zac is sweet as can be.  He's very much just a sweet kid from California who happens to have a face that looks like it was drawn by Michelangelo (if Michelangelo did anime).  Elijah is no veteran of musical theater.  That's for sure.  He's brash and bold, more urban, and I'm about to kick the musical crap out of him.  Brittany Snow just lives to prove herself to me, which I think is so sweet because she did such a good job on the movie that we filmed together. I still think it's funny that she is playing Amber.  She's the least wicked person of all of us.  Amanda is just a force of joy in the room and she is so happy to be here.  She is more famous than all of us and is just happy to be throwing herself into this project one million percent.  

It really is a great group and I am blessed.  God, just please let them be good in the movie.

More tomorrow with entry #12...

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