Hairspray chosen as NBC’s next live musical

Hold on to your beehives, because this December Hairspray will be coming to a TV near you. After much speculation, NBC has announced its decision to stage the Baltimore classic in 2016.

Based on Baltimore icon John Waters’ 1988 cult classic, Hairspray the musical took to the Broadway stage from 2002 until 2009, winning dozens of Tony awards and spawning a national tour and productions in the United Kingdom and Australia. In 2007, New Line Cinema released a film version of the show starring showstoppers John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken and Queen Latifah, among others.

Telling the story of Baltimore teen Tracy Turnblad in 1962, Hairspray weaves themes of prejudice and acceptance into a lively narrative filled with 1960’s-style pop and blues music. All Tracy wants to do is to be a dancer on Corny Collins’ after-school show, but she soon learns that there is more to life in Baltimore than doing the “mashed potato” on television. With the help of her bestie Penny Pingelton, crush Link Larkin, and new friends Seaweed Stubbs and Ms. Motormouth Maybelle, Tracy strives to integrate the Corny Collins show and beyond. Fans of the show know how heavily Baltimore as a city plays into the plot, from a line in the opening song “Good Morning Baltimore” referencing “rats in the street” to the iconic “Baltimore hon” hairstyle featured on many of the characters.

“Nearly 30 years after its original release, John Waters’ Hairspray is still considered one of the most entertaining movies of all time. These live television performances help classic films reach younger generations and a broader audience,” said Bill Pencek, Acting Managing Director for Commerce’s Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts. “We’re looking forward to seeing this Baltimore experience be brought to life on NBC.”

2016 is the fourth year that NBC has nationally broadcast a live, staged musical. 2013’s The Sound of Music drew in an impressive 19 million viewers and while 2014’s Peter Pan didn’t quite live up to expectations, the production of The Wiz last December was met with critical and commercial success.

The NBC version will feature producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who produced the previous NBC musicals, as well as the film version of Hairspray.

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Julia Cora

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