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Transcript of Hairspray Programme
17TH - 20TH SEPTEMBER 2014Book by Mark ODonnell
and Thomas MeehanLYRICS by Scott Wittman
and Marc ShaimanMUSIC by
Based upon the New Line Cinema film written and directed by John Waters
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General Committee Allen Broadbent, Peter Brearley Neil Hurst, Rae Laycock, Nuala Smith & Yvonne WhiteLADIES COMMITTEE Brenda Birtwhistle, Sheila Lloyd Jackie Lumb, Caroline Manders, Shirley Mitchell, Linda SmithHonorary Life MembersHonorary Life Members Ernest Ainley, Allen Broadbent, Brian Conyers, Olga Conyers, Dorothy Fozzard, Joyce Gill, Jackie Lumb, Pauline Robinson, Margaret Washington
WELCOME TO 1962The average house price is 2,670The average annual salary is 799 A loaf of bread was 4.5d and a pint of beer was 11.5d
West Side Story wins Academy Award for Best Picture
The Beatles release their first record Love Me Do
The Rolling Stones make their debut performance
BBC first airs University Challenge
Brazil wins the World Cup
By WZZTs Roving Reporter
Tricky Dicky Armstrong
Almost a century after slavery was abolished, 1960s America society was still deeply driven by racism. The racial segregation we see in The Corny Collins Show or that which is implicated in Velma Von Tussles horror of an integrated swimming pool, give a glimpse into some of the types the racism that existed. Indeed 63% of Americans disagreed with the outlawing of segregation on public transport - a law that in the southern states, where the Ku Klux Klan werewere prevalent was flagrantly ignored! Five years earlier the army had gone into Little Rock to escort black teenagers to school after segregation in schools was outlawed.
Hairspray is not first musical to touch on race relations. Given the show is a 21st century incarnation, unlike musicals such as Showboat (1927) or South Pacific (1949), its offers a retrospective commentary on American culture of a particular era, rather than a critique of current socio-political culture. John Walters, the author of the original film, made no secret of the fact that The Corny Collins Show was based on The Buddy Deane Show which in thethe late 50s and early 60s was an essential viewing for Baltimores teenagers. In actual fact the conclusion of Act Two (and the end of the original film) is Walters own version of the event in 1964 that led to the cancellation of The Buddy Deane Show.
Corny Collins is modelled on Buddy Deane, a DJ who moved into television and became one of the first to spot the potential of rock and roll. His TV show, which is recreated in the musical, albeit with increased campness, colour and energy, ran for 150 minutes six times a week for seven years. It would feature local dancers bopping to the hits of the day and would make locallocal stars of its teenage feature dancers the regulars of whom would be known as the committee (in our show the council). Walters recalled that some of the first people he regarded as celebrities would be his playground peers who appeared on the show. Because of racial segregation only white dancers would be allowed to perform except for every second Friday, wherewhere black dancers would appear and the show would be co-hosted by a black DJ. In 1963 a group of teenagers of all colours stormed the studio during a live broadcast on a black Friday (where many of the audience belonged to the Baltimore Area Youth Opportunities Unlimited (BAYOU) group).
The youngsters started dancing together, to a reaction of in some quarters of outrage and in others bemusement. As the show was broadcast live nothing could be done and this mixed race dance in was beamed to homes across the east coast, inin all its glory. Many suspect this was the reason the show was cancelled the following year.
Its would be easy to trivialise the plotline of the show connected with integration but for all the big hair dos, high octane dancing, and gloriously camp fun that the show delivers us; it skilfully avoids being patronising or condescending with regard to the subject.subject. The big 11 oclock number in the show, traditionally reserved for the lead, is in fact delivered not by Tracey, but by Motor mouth and is a subtle but important nod to the racial integration plotline.
The Buddy Deane Show
Racism in theatre
This is a relatively ironic message for a hit musical & blockbuster film, given Broadway and Hollywoods obsession over size especially for female performers. Can you name any other musicals where the leading lady is size-plus? Or Hollywood Blockbusters where the romantic female lead is anything other than a supermodel in terms of physique.
But,But, at its core, Hairspray is fun & fast-paced, with big tunes, wonderful dance numbers, has gags by the bucket-load, and a great big heart to it. It continued Broadways re-found love for musical comedy kick-started by Crazy For You, developed by The Producers, which became so important keeping the Great White Way going in the years post-9/11. Hairspray was the first hit show after that horrendous day, as Americans embraced its spirit of hope.
TheatreTheatre can take the guise of many different forms but no matter which era we live in, there will always been a place for unapologetic escapist joy. Hairspray is therefore about celebration of the best of American values diversity and inclusion, & the power of the individual of change things. However, its cunningness is also to be about the notion that these values are in many ways, subversive.
After an out-of-town tryout in Seattle, Hairspray opened at the Neil Simon theatre in New York in August 2002 with a cast led by Harvey Fierstein as Edna, (and also notably launching the Broadway career of the now Glee star Matthew Morrison as Link). The reviews were ecstatic with the influential New York Times articulating that it was recreated the old fashioned pleasures of musical comedy, without seeming old-fashioned
ByBy the time it closed in January 2009, the show had amassed 2,642 performances- and currently resides as Broadways 18th longest running musical ever. It was also able to recoup its $10.5m investment within 9 months! At the 2003 Tony Awards the show garnered 8 awards including the coveted Best New Musical.
After opening in New York, it took until October 2007 for the show to hit London. Led by Michael Ball (as Edna), the cast also included Leanne Jones (as Tracy), Tracie Bennett (as Velma) and the late Mel Smith (as Wilbur). Hairspray swept the Olivier Awards, being crowned as Best New Musical, as well as additional personal awards for Ball, Jones, and Bennett (a quadruple of awards mirrored at the What onstage Awards several months earlier).earlier). Hairspray ran for over 1,000 performances and 2 years, before Ball returned to headline a sell-out UK tour.
Since opening on Broadway, aside from the UK, the show has been exported around the world from Argentina to Australia, and from Germany to Dubai (where Leanne Jones reprised the role as Tracey). In 2007 it was also made into a film, thereby completing a 360 degree journey from screen to stage back to the big screen. Whereas the original filmfilm was a cult hit, the 2007 film musical was a big-budget multi-national blockbuster starring, amongst others, John Travolta & Michelle Pfeiffer.
Hairspray though is not about race relations, neither is it about a fat girl who has to slim down for get the guy, or about an ugly duckling who blossoms into the high school belle; No, weight is not the most important thing about our heroine..simply put, its not Traceys size which defines her. The very heart of Hairspray, and the reason we root for Tracey over Amber, is that its not appearances that matter is personalities (is there a better way to describedescribe Amber than when Tracey tells her that she has cooties of the soul??). Its also easy to empathise with Tracey who among us hasnt, at some point, felt on the outside because they are or were, in some way, different even if that difference only exists in our won head.
You Cant stop the beat
From Broadway... to the world
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