Good Morning, Baltimore! Hairspray will be NBC’s fourth live musical, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Set to air as a holiday special in December 2016, the musical is the follow-up to last month’s critically acclaimed The Wiz Live!. Hairspray was picked largely because of its “focus on race relations and diversity.” Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the duo which helmed NBC’s previous three live musicals, will executive produce the special.
Hairspray tells the story of teenager Tracy Turnblad, who becomes a celebrity after winning a role on a fictional local TV dance program, then campaigning to allow African Americans on the show. Originally a 1988 John Waters film, Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan made the musical into a Broadway megahit in 2002. The eight Tony Award-winning musical with music by Mark Shaiman has since toured the globe including runs in the UK, Melbourne, Australia, and Las Vegas. Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema also reprised the story as a John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Nikki Blonsky-starring feature film in 2007.
Zadan explained that his team wants to keep innovating the way they make NBC’s now annual live musical. “We set out on a path that has changed the way we do them [this year],” said the producer at today’s Television Critics Association winter press tour. “That’s going to inform what the next show is going to be. We don’t want to go back to the way we did Peter Pan or The Sound of Music — we want to keep moving forward.”
Due in part to 19 year-old Shanice Williams’ success in The Wiz, Zadan and Meron plan on searching for unknown rising talent to play Tracy Turnblad and her mom Edna in Hairspray according to NBC chair Bob Greenblatt.