Jennifer Hudson & Harvey Fierstein Join 'Hairspray Live!', Bringing A Wealth Of Theater Knowledge With Them
Watch out world, there's some exciting casting news brewing. Jennifer Hudson and Harvey Fierstein have joined Hairspray Live!, the NBC production you should be getting excited about it you weren't already, as Motomouth Maybelle and Edna Turnblad, respectively. Both Fierstein and Hudson are seasoned performers in theaters as well as onscreen, so, with any luck, the live musical quality will get a much-needed boost with these cast additions. In previous years, The Wiz was met with widespread applause, while opinions were decidedly cooler for Peter Pan and The Sound of Music. Fierstein and Hudson will provide the much-needed theater chops as well as the proper amount of effervescent energy that is needed to make Hairspray a success.
Fierstein is a Broadway mainstay, having built a career that spans more than 40 years. While you may recognize him from his role as Frank Hillard, the feisty uncle in Mrs. Doubtfire, it's Fierstein's personal brand of masculine camp that makes him so perfect to play Edna Turnblad. The role was originated by Fierstein in the 1988 Broadway musical, and he was nominated for a Best Actor Tony Award as a result. The role has since become a showcase for male actors (John Travolta in the 2007 version) and drag queens (Divine in the 1988 John Waters-directed version) alike. It will be a return to form for Fierstein, and I am thoroughly confident that his comedic timing and boisterous personality will come full-force through our television screens and make for an excellent Edna.
Hudson is another performer ripe for a return to television. While she made a name for herself on American Idol in 2004, she has had no problem navigating the choppy post-Idol career waters. Her Oscar-nominated turn as Effie in Dreamgirls spawned a seriously cool list of acting credits: she made brief appearance on NBC's Smash and, more recently, in HBO's Confirmation, while appearing on the big screen in last year's Chi-raq. Hudson is now currently showcasing her skills on Broadway in The Color Purple. The venue may be different, but Hudson has been able to move between mediums and formats so seamlessly that it's simply remarkable. Not only does she have the sass that Motormouth Maybelle so desperately needs, but she will also be able to strike those serious notes, as will be necessary for the song "I Know Where I've Been."
Whether you think Fierstein and Hudson will be able to keep the ratings high for Hairspray, Live!, one thing is for certain: you won't be able to stop the beat.