The nicest kids in town are ready to take the stage. Hairspray Live! airs on NBC Wednesday, December 7, at 8 p.m. ET, and while the show will only last three hours, the crew and cast members Derek Hough, Ariana Grande, Harvey Fierstein, Jennifer Hudson, Kristin Chenoweth and newcomer Maddie Baillio have been fine-tuning the production for months. Here are five things to know about the production about a girl who finds overnight success in 1962 Baltimore.
1. Thanks to Grease: Live, the crew is ready for rain.
After a rare storm hit Grease: Live’s L.A. set during the January 31 Fox broadcast, the Hairspray makeup, costume and hair teams decided to take preventative action. “The makeup department has already decided they’re going to do waterproof makeup on everything,” costume designer Mary Vogt told Us Weekly and other reporters October 27, while noting, ironically, “our hairdresser is talking about special hairspray that will hold hair more than usual.”
In addition to incorporating umbrellas, Vogt notes that the costume department will make sure the cast will not be affected, no matter what the weather conditions: “As far as the clothes getting wet, I would be more worried about the actors getting wet and getting cold, so we may underdress them in waterproof — you know, the kind of things you wear in camping,” she said. “Thermals and things that will keep their bodies dry.”
2. The live production will be more similar to the Broadway play than the movie adaptation.
Fans looking to see a live version of either the 1988 or 2007 film versions should be prepared for something slightly different. “When we were writing the show in the first place, we sort of digested the movie and decided…what we wanted from that movie and what we didn’t,” Harvey Fierstein, who stars as Edna Turnblad and wrote the teleplay, said November 21. “The Hollywood movie really didn’t play very much into this because it changed the story and did things that I personally would never have done.”
Choreographer Jerry Mitchell added that while the live show will stick “very, very close to the Broadway production,” there are a few fan favorites from the film that will make their way to the live production. “We have included the song ‘Ladies’ Choice.’ And we have ‘Come So Far,’ which is our curtain call number. But otherwise we’re sticking close to the Broadway version.”
When choosing which songs from the film would make the cut for the live production, the team used one cast member’s talent as a deciding factor. “Because we had Derek Hough, Jerry wanted to use.… ‘Ladies’ Choice’ because it’s more of a dance song,” Fierstein explained of the Dancing With the Stars pro. “It would allow Derek to really dance. So that was one thing that we did. You know, that sort of avows to the new movie.”
3. The show will touch on current political issues.
“I think Hairspray is needed now more today, with the recent turnout of our election, than ever before,” Mitchell said. “Because inclusion and everyone just dancing together is really what it boils down to in a very simple message.” The Tony-winning choreographer also added: “It couldn’t be more needed today than it has ever been in the past.”
Garrett Clayton, who plays Link Larkin, also noted the show’s relevant message. “We are in a time where I think everyone’s eyes have been opened, and we realize how much work we still have to do,” Clayton said November 16. “And it is really nice to do this show at this time with these people on such a grand scale, so we can send a message in this period of time when we really, really need it.”
4. The audience will be part of the show — and will be involved in a surprise finale!
“Obviously, the Corny Collins Show is a teen dance show, so there’s an audience watching the show in the studio — that’s one way we’re going to use our live audience.” Mitchell said. “Their applause after the end of Good Morning Baltimore will transition us to the Corny Collins Studio, where we immediately pick up with ‘Nicest Kids in Town.'” Mitchell also teased: “The big finale…we’ve got some surprises in there with the audience.”
5. Don’t expect original choreography from Derek Hough.
Although Hough shows off his choreography week after week on DWTS, he was happy to let other pros take the lead on the set of Hairspray. “Derek has never once in all of our rehearsals said, ‘Oh, I don’t like that step, can I try this,’” Mitchell said. “Derek comes in and he is full out. He does it. He learns it quicker than anybody else. And then he gives it back to you.”
Hairspray Live! airs on NBC Wednesday, December 7, at 8 p.m. ET.
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