NBC is adding to its list of live musical performances this winter with its own rendition of the cult-classic Hairspray. Just days ago, the network announced that it had cast American Idol alum Jennifer Hudson and Tony-award winning actor Harvey Fierstein, who starred in the original stage-version of the musical, to star in their own production of the story, Hairspray Live!
Yesterday, the cast of the show expanded: Variety is reporting that comedian and two-time Emmy award winner Martin Short has joined the roster, playing Wilbur Turnblad, the husband to Fierstein’s Edna Turnblad. The part was played by Jerry Stiller in the original Hairspray movie (the one starring Ricki Lake). Wilbur was played by Christopher Walken in the 2007 remake, and Dancing With the Stars’ Derek Hough will play Corny Collins, the host of The Corny Collins Show, a local dance showcase that the plot centers on. Jennifer Hudson will play R&B DJ Motormouth Maybelle.
The story of Hairspray follows the day-to-day life of Tracy Turnblad, an overweight teenager who is denied entry onto a popular dance show, only to defy the odds, become the star of the show, and get the guy in the end. Originally a John Waters movie, the musical was adapted to Broadway in 2002, where it won multiple Tony awards. This re-adaptation will be NBC’s fourth foray into live musical broadcasts: the network previously put on productions of The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, and The Wiz, all of which received massive viewership, so NBC is hoping to continue that trend with Hairspray.
On recruiting Martin Short and Derek Hough for the production, NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt had this to say: ““We are very happy to have the inimitable Martin Short to play Edna’s loving husband, Wilbur. We welcome Marty to the network in May in his new variety show with Maya Rudolph and we think he will be the perfect long-term companion to Harvey’s Edna. And hands-down the best dancer on television and one of the best in the entertainment business, Derek Hough, will be perfect in the role of Corny Collins, the cocky song-and-dance-man who hosts the TV show every teenager in Baltimore wants to be on.”
Hairspray Live! will air on Wednesday, December 7th at 8 p.m. EST. It will be directed by Grease Live’s Alex Rudzinski