Hairspray
the Musical – Portfolio  

Hairspray tells the story of Tracy, who defies the
convention of being an overweight teenager by becoming the unlikely star of a
local television show, while attempting to achieve equality for everyone.
Hairspray was last in the West End in 2010 however the themes and story behind the
production are still relevant today. With the growth of social media, size and
appearance are at the forefront of the celebrity culture even more so now, than
ever. As a human race we have made vast leaps in our technological progress in
this time, but have we been able to make real progress with the entrenched
prejudicial issues surrounding size, race and appearance that are so dominant
in our society? These matters surrounding prejudice are still as current and
topical now as they were in 1962 when this musical is set. We have made
progress since Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, but we still
have a long way to go in order to reach Tracy Turnblad’s final goal of equality,
regardless of race, size or appearance. Hairspray’s treatment of these topics
is what makes it the most relevant and current musical that can be offered to
our modern society. Hairspray needs to be brought back to London’s West End
after being away for eight years, so it can entertain, educate and entice a new
audience, as they see an underdog succeed against countless obstacles.

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Artistic Concept  

Production Style

The production will be in keeping with previous productions
of Hairspray and has the purpose of reviving the classic show for new audiences.
It is unnecessary to change or alter this timeless show, which had many
successful runs on Broadway, the West End and worldwide, just to be different. The
aim is to transport the audience back to an era they will never experience by
delivering a classic musical with relatable modern themes.

The revival of Hairspray will be performed at The Queen’s
Theatre, London. This theatre is on Shaftesbury Avenue, in the heart of
London’s West End, allowing for marketing opportunities towards the theatre’s
extensive footfall. The Queen’s Theatre has had past productions of musicals
including The Rocky Horror Show, Wonderful Town and Les Misérables, and is therefore suitable
to house a successful long running musical theatre production. (Delfont
Mackintosh Theatre, 2017). The show will run
for six months, with the opportunity to extend the run if the show is
successful.

Period

Hairspray takes place in Baltimore, Maryland in 1962 amongst
the racism and segregation faced by the black community during the Civil Rights
Movement. (Anon, 2013) Baltimore became the first Southern city to integrate
its schools and allow all children, regardless of race to the same education.
Teen dance shows were taking off in the 1950s and 60s and were shifting musical
tastes for teens, as they introduced black music and musicians to a white
audience, much to the dismay of segregationists. The dance shows aired in an era when
equality was changing everywhere as they coincided with the start of the Civil Rights
Movement. The songs in
Hairspray capture the 1960’s dance music of the rhythm and blues that was
popular within the African-American community.  

Hairspray’s Corny Collins Show is based on The Buddy Dean
Show, an all-white Baltimore dance production and the most popular one locally,
which also dedicated one day a month to ‘Negro Day’ (Banks, 2003)

Previous Productions

Hairspray
the Musical is based on John Walters 1988 film Hairspray. It was adapted into a
musical in 2002, produced by Margo Lion, and had its Broadway debut on August
15, 2002, where it ran for six years before closing on January 4, 2009. The
production on Broadway won eight Tony awards in 2003 including Best Musical. During
its Broadway run, it had its West End premiere on October 11, 2007 at the
Shaftsbury Theatre, where it ran for thirty months before closing on March 28,
2010. In 2008, the London show won four Laurence Olivier awards including Best
New Musical. The Broadway and West End productions kept the identical creative
team of Jack O’Brien directing and Jerry Mitchell choreographing.

There
was a successful film version of the musical adaption in 2007 directed by Adam
Shankman. (Kare, 2016)

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