Wow, talk about mixed emotions.
Now it's official. Hairspray, the 2003 Tony winner for Best Musical, will close on Broadway Jan. 4, ending its run of 6 1/2 years with a total of 2,672 performances at the Neil Simon Theatre. But - this is the great part - Harvey Fierstein, who won a Tony award for playing Edna Turnblad, will reprise the role starting Nov. 11.
For a whole host of reasons, many of which I've mentioned before, Hairspray is one of my favorite musicals. (Some of those reasons include: my interest in the 1960s and the civil-rights movement, my love of catchy pop scores, the fact that Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan's Tony-winning book, based on the John Waters movie, is truly integrated, with substantive roles for white and black actors.) But I've only seen it on tour, never on Broadway.
In May, I met Scott Wittman, who, with Marc Shaiman, his creative and life partner of nearly 30 years, wrote the Tony-winning score for Hairspray. He was standing outside the stage door after A Catered Affair, waiting for Harvey Fierstein. When I told him how much I loved Hairspray, he graciously thanked me, then pointed to Harvey and said he was big part of the show's success.
Well, I have to respectfully disagree with Mr. Wittman on one count. I think Hairspray's songs, memorable characters and inspiring story make it pretty terrific on its own, even without a star. But I'm so excited that now, I'll have a chance to see what he meant.