Bridget McCarthy ‘17/ Emertainment Monthly Stage Editor
Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will produce their fourth live musical for NBC, and it’s a show they’re pretty familiar with: Hairspray. The network’s go-to duo for live musicals also produced the feature film adaptation of Hairspray in 2007.
The movie included celebrities such as Zac Efron, Amanda Bynes, and John Travolta. Elijah Kelley and Queen Latifah starred in both Hairspray and Zadan and Meron’s most recent live musical, The Wiz Live!. Christopher Walken, who starred as Captain Hook in NBC’s second live musical, Peter Pan Live!, was also in the film.
These crossovers from silver screen to staged television screen make audiences wonder if they will be seeing a copy of the movie cast, something new, or something in-between?
Here is a list of Emertainment Monthly’s dream casting job:
TBA Tracy Turnblad (Played by Nikki Blonsky in the film)
Back in 2007, Meron and and Zadan held an open call to find the driving force behind the Hairspray film, and it brought them Nikki Blonsky. Although Blonsky’s performance in the movie is undoubtedly fabulous, finding new talent is always important. The Wiz Live! also had an open call for the role of Dorothy, which brought NBC 18-year-old Shanice Williams, who proved to be a powerhouse. Meron and Zadan should stick to finding new talent for leading roles, because the track record proves it to be better than using star power. (Both The Wiz and Hairspray excelled critically with their breakthrough leads Williams and Blonsky, whereas celebrities like Allison Williams and Carrie Underwood used for Peter Pan and The Sound of Music did not fare as well.)
Let’s stick to ladies with pipes and acting skills, not a big name with one or the other.
Nick Jonas as Link Larkin (Played by Zac Efron in the film)
Okay, this might sound hypocritical after advocating for new talent, but star power is still necessary. And what better choice than stage veteran Nick Jonas? Jonas played the role of Link in the Hollywood Bowl’s production of Hairspray, and let’s not forget his start as Gavroche in Les Mis on Broadway nor his portrayal of Marius at the 25th Anniversary Concert.
His boy band voice will work better in Hairspray, anyways.
Taylor Louderman as Amber Von Tussle (Played by Brittany Snow in the film)
From Wendy Darling in Peter Pan Live! to sassy Amber Von Tussle, if anyone can make the jump, it’s Taylor Louderman. Louderman has experience with sass in Bring It On: The Musical, and she also played Amber Von Tussle at The Muny this past summer in St. Louis, Missouri.
Kristin Chenoweth as Velma Von Tussle (Played by Michelle Pfeiffer in the film)
Chenoweth is a favorite for television and stage lovers alike, so she’s the perfect pick for a televised musical. Her vocals and comedic timing could make her a show stealer.
Jonah Hill as Edna Turnblad (Played by John Travolta in the film)
Jonah Hill in drag? Please.
See below as to why this is especially amazing casting.
Channing Tatum as Wilbur Turnblad (Played by Christopher Walken in the film)
See above as to why this is especially amazing casting.
(Come on, “You’re Timeless to Me” with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum? Make this happen.)
Ariana Grande as Penny Pingleton (Played by Amanda Bynes in the film)
Ariana Grande’s voice is out of this world, and she is no stranger to musical theatre. Grande would make the sweetest Penny, while still giving audiences a reason to rewind her solos. Over. And over. And over again.
Jennifer Hudson OR Danielle Brooks as Motormouth Maybelle (Played by Queen Latifah in the film)
This one’s a toss up. But we know these two stars of The Color Purple on Broadway could more than handle the huge undertaking of the role that is Motormouth Maybelle. Either one is more than fine.
Elijah Kelley as Seaweed (Played by Elijah Kelley in the film)
Let’s keep some things consistent. Kelley was a star in both the Hairspray film and The Wiz Live!; he is more than deserving of reprising his role and killing it yet again.
Neil Patrick Harris as Corny Collins (Played by James Marsden in the film)
America’s favorite host playing America’s favorite host. Meta.