Live television musical broadcasts have been bringing American families together since they first became a new genre in entertainment with the inaugural broadcast of ‘The Sound Of Music: Live’ three years ago. Since the first show’s success, NBC continued the tradition with ‘Peter Pan: Live’ and most recently,‘The Wiz! Live.’
Now the legacy continues with the holiday broadcast of the eccentric, over-the-top, 1960s political broadway show, ‘Hairspray.’ The musical drama follows an overweight teen who seeks to integrate a popular dance show in Baltimore, Maryland.
‘Hairspray’s’ message of unity in a time of segregation comes just in time as the country continues to reel from the 2016 election results.
To say ‘It’s been a tough year.” would be an understatement. The last 18 months of ruthless political campaigning came to an end with President-elect Donald Trump snagging the White House from democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
For the cast of Hairspray Live!, the shocking news drove them to rehearsal with a whole new sense of responsibility and duty.
Disney darling Dove Cameron, who plays Amber Von Tussle in the show, explained to HB the shift that happened on set after Trump’s win.
“We started it off being like ‘Hairspray is still relevant’ which is something you would hope by now wouldn’t be relevant. And as events have unfolded the way they have, we have had a lot of talks around the set like, ‘Okay, so now what we’re doing here has a different energy to it, it has a different light, and it’s even more important now than when we started. It’s taken on a different tone.”
Vocal powerhouse Ariana Grande, who nails the role of Penny Pingleton, weighed in on the importance of the show, adding that music is the one unifying factor in the midst of chaos.
“It’s so much easier to touch people through art and through music and laughter and through silliness. I can’t sit down at a table with 8 million people at a table the way I’m talking to you right now, but I can post a song and hope somebody sees it,” she told HB.
Oscar winner, Jennifer Hudson will bring the message home with her highly anticipated moving performance of ‘Where I’ve Been,’ the show’s gospel inspired anthem. Jennifer’s character, Motormouth Maybelle, is the ultimate matriarch character throughout the show and rallies the kids together under one voice.
“The emotion will be raw,” she told HB, when asked how she’s prepping for her big moment.
“It’s nothing ,unfortunately, that I have to go back into the 60s to understand, or go talk to your great auntie or your mom, because we are living in it. But I do think it will be that much more impactful because of that. And that’s why I think this story is so needed and necessary today. It’s not a mistake that it’s now. and I hope it’s not missed.”
Derek Hough, of ‘Dancing With The Stars’ who plays Corny Collins chimed in, ‘It won’t be missed with you singing it.”
Amen to that.
“I want it to be in the moment.” J-Hud continued. “It’s not a song, it’s so far beyond that. It’s a movement, It’s a message. It’s a journey, and I don’t want it to be anything too over rehearsed.”