Music by Marc Shaiman: Lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman: Book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan. Based on the John Waters 1988 Film.
Neil Simon Theatre, Broadway - 15 August 2002 - 4 January, 2009 (31 previews; 2641 perfs)
Shaftesbury Theatre, London - 30 October, 2007 - 28 March, 2010 (1000 + perfs)
It's early June, 1962, in blue-collar Baltimore. Surrounded by "45s" and teen magazines, Tracy Turnblad wakes up in her family's apartment over the Har-De-Har Hut, her father Wilbur's jokeshop. Teenager Tracy is a large girl with a high hairdo, abundant joie de vivre and rhythm in every inch of her body. Her obsession is the Corny Collins TV show on WZZ1, the after-school dance program that has made stars out of The Nicest Kids In Town. Everyday, Tracy and her shy best friend Penny rush to Tracy's house right after school to learn the latest dances and moon over Link Larkin, the show's resident dreamboat. Tracy's mother, Edna, a hardworking woman of vast proportions and enormous heart, takes in laundry to make ends meet. Penny's mother, Prudy Pingleton, disapproves of the "coloured" music, but to Edna, it's just good old black-and-white TV.
On the Corny Collins Show, the reigning queen is the oh-so-perfect Amber Von Tussle, whose mother Velma happens to be producing the show. They are all excited about a coming nationwide prime-time Corny Collins spectacular live from the Eventorium, sponsored by Ultra Clutch Hairspray. The girl on the show who gets the highest popularity rating will be crowned Miss Teenage Hairspray, and Amber wants that crown almost as much as Velma wants it for her. The daily show is segregated except for once a month, when Motormouth Maybelle co-hosts "Negro Day." Velma complains that Corny spinning so much "race" music will lose them their sponsor, while Link asks Amber to go steady and gives her his Corny Collins Council ring. One of the girls on the show will be dropping out for a suspicious nine months, and auditions are announced for a replacement. Tracy and Penny are dying to go. Edna, Prudy and Velma each try to control their daughters, but the girls rebel.
Tracy and Penny are late for the audition, due to a "stupid bus crash," but when Link bumps into Tracy, she hears a symphony. The girls on the Council, led by Amber, pick Tracy apart, and Velma won't even let her dance. Back in school and in detention again for outlandish hair-do, Tracy meets all the cool black kids in school, especially Seaweed, who teaches Tracy some fabulous moves that she uses at the Sophomore hop. DJ Corny Collins singles her out, and so does Link. All they had to do was see her dance. Next time we see her, she's on the show. Over Amber's objections, Link sings Tracy a love-song on the air on which Tracy brazenly joins in and they end it with a kiss. Not only does Tracy eclipse Amber, she also suggests that every day be "Negro Day" right on the air, much to Velma's fury.
Tracy gets home to Edna, and the offers are pouring in. Mr. Pinky from The Hefty Hideaway ("quality clothes for quantity gals") wants her for his spokesgirl and "fashion effigy." Tracy wants Edna as her agent, but Edna is reluctant to leave the house. Tracy insists she get with the decade. Thanks to Mr. Pinky, the Turnblads are transformed from frumps to fashion-icons, extra-large deluxe.
At school, Tracy is attacked by Amber in a game of dodgeball ("So tragic, I forgot to cry."), but Penny, Link and Seaweed come to her aid. Seaweed invites them all to a platter party at the record shop run by his mother, Motormouth Maybelle, in the black section of town. Tracy thinks that's so cool, but Seaweed says not everyone sees it that way. At Motormouth Maybelle's shop, Seaweed is joined in his song by his sister, Li'l Inez. Black kids and white kids are all dancing together when one by one, Amber, Velma, Edna and Wilbur arrive. Amber and Velma try to make Link leave with them, but he stays and they go. Tracy schemes with Maybelle to integrate the show, starting tomorrow on Mother Daughter Day. Maybelle will bring Li'l Inez, with Tracy and Edna blocking the door behind them. Link chickens out, afraid that controversy will cost him his big break on the nationwide special, and he leaves. Tracy is heartbroken, but unwilling to back down. Edna feels she could "never appear on camera...at [her] current weight," but Maybelle insists that, like her, Edna is big, blonde and beautiful. Edna agrees, but as they reach the studio, their civil rights demonstration turns into a full-scale riot, and both protesters and protestees are loaded into a police paddy wagon.
Harvey Fierstein as Edna Turnblat
Almost every female character is in jail, waiting to be sprung from the Big Dollhouse. After Velma and Amber are pardoned, Wilbur posts bail for everyone else (by mortgaging the Har-De-Har Hut), but-thanks to some legal shenanigans by the Von Tussles to keep her out of the Miss Teenage Hairspray contest - Tracy is moved to solitary "refinement"
Back at home, Wilbur is working on a giant joke can of hairspray, while Edna bewails Tracy's fate, and her own forgotten dreams of being a fabulous fashion designer. Even Mr. Pinky wants all his glamorous outfits back. She's feeling old and worn-out. But Wilbur knows just what to say.
Link slips into jail past a sleeping guard to whisper to Tracy through the bars of her cell that he's through with Amber (who was just using him to look popular). He wants Tracy to be his girl and wear his Corny Collins Council ring. Meanwhile, Prudy's mother has tied Penny up in her room, but Seaweed comes to set her free. The four teens sing as Link cuts through the bars of Tracy's cell with a blowtorch made from a can of hairspray and a Zippo lighter.
They run to Motormouth Maybelle's, where they plan their next move - the integration of the Miss Hairspray contest. Tracy is afraid of what it will cost her friends and family, but for Motormouth, it's too late to turn back. At the Baltimore Eventorium, armed guards surround the Miss Teenage Hairspray spectacular, as Corny and The Council Members sing their big opening number. A scoreboard of votes for Miss Hairspray shows Amber and Tracy are neck-and-neck. A man wheels on a giant can of hairspray, but Velma recognises him as Wilbur and thinking this Trojan Horse houses his "jailbird" daughter, calls the riot police away from the entrance to guard it.
It's time for the contestants' new dance competition. With Tracy still at large ("at VERY large") Amber dedicates her number to Tracy, the Loser. Amber is claiming the prize as Tracy bursts in, followed by Link, Penny and Li'l Inez. The armed guards turn out to be Seaweed, Motormouth and the kids from the "wrong side of the tracks." Finally entering through the FRONT door, everybody joins in Tracy's dance and The Corny Collins Show is officially integrated, live and nationwide. The giant can of hairspray explodes to reveal Edna making her coast-to-coast television debut in a fabulous ensemble of her own creation. The dancing crowd then turns on Velma and Amber, inviting even them to admit You Can't Stop the Beat.
Cast - in order of appearance
Guitars I, II; Keyboards I, II, III: Electric Bass; Drums; Percussion; Reeds I, II; Trumpet; Trombone;Violin I, II, III, IV; Cello I, II
- GOOD MORNING BALTIMORE: - Tracy Turnblad & Ensemble
- THE NICEST KIDS IN TOWN: - Corny Collins & Council Members
- MAMA, I'M A BIG GIRL NOW: - Tracy Turnblad, Amber Von Tussle, Penny Pingleton, Edna Turnblad, Velma Von Tussle, Prudy Pingleton & Ensemble Girls
- I CAN HEAR THE BELLS: - Tracy Turnblad & Ensemble
- (THE LEGEND OF) MISS BALTIMORE CRABS: - Velma Von Tussle & Council Members with Tracy Turnblad, Penny Pingleton & Li'l Inez
- IT TAKES TWO: - Link Larkin, Tracy Turnblad & Ensemble Guys
- WELCOME TO THE '60s: - Tracy Turnblad, Edna Turnblad & "The Dynamites"
- RUN AND TELL THAT!: - Seaweed J. Stubbs, Li'l Inez & Ensemble
- BIG, BLONDE AND BEAUTIFUL: - Motormouth Maybelle, Tracy Turnblad, Edna Turnblad, Wilbur Turnblad, Velma Von Tussle & Company
- THE BIG DOLLHOUSE: - Prudy Pingleton, Velma Von Tussle, Edna Turnblad, Amber Von Tussle, Li'l Inez, Motormouth Maybelle, Penny Pingleton, Tracy Turnblad & Ensemble Girls
- GOOD MORNING BALTIMORE Reprise: - Tracy Turnblad
- (YOU'RE) TIMELESS TO ME: - Wilbur Turnblad & Edna Turnblad
- WITHOUT LOVE: - Link Larkin, Tracy Turnblad, Seaweed J. Stubbs, Penny Pingleton & Ensemble
- I KNOW WHERE I'VE BEEN: - Motormouth Maybelle with The Dynamites & Ensemble
- (IT'S) HAIRSPRAY: - Corny Collins & Council Members
- COOTIES: - Amber Von Tussle & Council Members
- YOU CAN'T STOP THE BEAT: - Company
Original Broadway Cast - Sony Classical SK 87708