Harvey Fierstein to reprise role of Edna in NBC’s ‘Hairpray Live!’ – Jennifer Hudson also joins cast
Harvey Fierstein is getting back in to the drab housedress of Edna Turnblad for NBC’s Hairspray Live!
Yay! It’s a role we know he’s very familiar with since he played it on Broadway and won a Tony Award for his performance as the reclusive mother of a curvaceous young woman who challenges prejudices in 1960s Baltimore after winning a spot on a local dance show.
The role of Edna has traditionally been played by a man in previous incarnations of Hairspray on stage and screen.
Divine played the role in the original 1988 John Waters film opposite Rikki Lake as the daughter, Tracy.
Then in 2007, John Travolta was Edna in a hugely successful musical remake in which Nikki Blonsky played Tracy.
Fierstein starred in the 2002 Broadway production and won a Tony Award for best lead actor in a musical. Bruce Vilanch is among the actors who have also played Edna on stage.
Although Tracy has yet to be cast – the tradition has been for the role to go to an unknown – it was also announced Monday that Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson has been added to the cast as Motormouth Maybelle, the owner of a local record store, who was portrayed on the big screen by Ruth Brown (1988) and Queen Latifah (2007).
‘Harvey Fierstein created the role of Edna Turnblad on Broadway in an indelible Tony-winning performance that demanded to be memorialized on film, and we’re happy he wanted to step into her shoes one last, unforgettable time,’ NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt said in a statement.
‘We’re also so grateful that the incomparable Jennifer Hudson will play Motormouth Maybelle and we know her rendition of I Know Where I’ve Been will literally stop the show.’
Hudson, currently starting on Broadway in The Color Purple, is no stranger to show- stopping musical numbers. Her powerful rendition of I’m Telling You I’m Not Going is considered the high point of her Oscar winning performance in the feature film version of Dreamgirls.
The TV musical, produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, will be directed by Alex Rudzinski who received great acclaim earlier this year for Grease Live!
The show will air on NBC on December 7 as part of the network’s tradition of doing a love musical during the holiday season.
It follows live productions of The Sound of Music, Peter Pan and The Wiz.