After it put on The Wiz last year, Peter Pan Live in 2014, and The Sound of Music Live in 2013, NBC is set to continue its tradition of an annual live musical. The network announced yesterday that its next live show will be Hairspray, based on the John Waters film of the same name, and telling the story of Baltimore teenager Tracy Turnblad as she comes face to face with a segregated America in the 1960s.
Based on the John Waters movie
First a movie in 1988, Hairspray became a Broadway musical in 2002, winning eight Tony awards during a seven-year run. A remake, starring John Travolta as Tracy's mother, premiered in 2007, the same year that another production of the musical version opened in London. It's not clear if any of the actors from the movie or stage show will step into their roles again — the cast for the NBC show has yet to be set, and no air date has been provided, but Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the executive producers for the previous musicals on the network, will return.
NBC's live musicals have quickly become an annual tradition after their introduction in 2013, securing good ratings and Twitter buzz for the network. Speaking to the Television Critics Association yesterday, NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt spoke about NBC's previous efforts, saying that "The Sound of Music was the right length, The Wiz was a little short, while Peter Pan felt like it should've have been shorter." Pan scored the lowest ratings of the three live musicals broadcast on the network so far, but Greenblatt assured the audience "I don't mean that disparagingly."