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My chat with Tony winner Marissa Jaret Winokur about ‘The Unauthorized Musical Parody of Hocus Pocus’

When Marissa Jaret Winokur was approached about taking one of the lead roles in The Unauthorized Musical Parody of Hocus Pocus she assumed it was the character of Mary played by Kathy Najimy in the beloved 1993 film.

But no.

For the latest musical at Rockwell Table and Stage in Los Feliz, Winokur was asked to play Winifred which was immortalized by Bette Midler.

‘I said, “Oh no, I can’t do that one. Nope, that’s too hard.” There’s too much judgement. I’m like her biggest fan- literally,’ Winokur recalled after a recent performance of the show which runs through November 19.

But she had been impressed by director Ty Blue’s recent parody of Troop Beverly Hills at the venue and was assured she would be well taken care of.

‘Oh my God, it’s so fun,’ she said of being a part of the production.

She has a wig and clothes similar to what Midler wore in the movie about three witch sisters who after three centuries are resurrected in Salem, Massachusetts, on Halloween night.

One person who won’t be in the audience is Midler who is back East rehearsing for her return to Broadway in Hello, Dolly!

‘I’m friends with her so I actually personally would have loved to have her see this,’ Winokur said. ‘I think she would have gotten a kick out of it and I pay more homage.

‘It’s a parody but I feel like my parody of Bette is very respectful and loving. I feel like she could absolutely see me doing this because I’m not making fun of Bette. I’m making more fun of the movie.’

Midler pal and longtime writer Bruce Vilanch stepped in as the show’s narrator on opening night and he thinks Midler ‘would be delighted.’

‘It would be hysterical, ‘ Vilanch said. ‘She would really love it, I think, because she did the movie for her child – they all do movies for their kids when they have kids – and she hadn’t done anything she felt Sophie could watch. Sophie’s now 34 so this was awhile back. And no one was more surprised than the people in the movie that it became a classic – thanks to cable.’

It was in 2003 that Winokur was the toast of Broadway as Tracy Turnblad in the musical adaptation of John Waters’ film Hairspray.

She won the Tony Award for lead actress in a musical over competition that included Bernadette Peters in a revival of Gypsy.

She reprised the role of Tracy in the 2011 Hollywood Bowl production of Hairspray.

Busy acting in movies and television and also hosting shows, Winoker has been choosy when it comes to musicals.

‘You can’t do this if it’s not fun,’ she says. ‘I kind of feel that way about musical theater altogether – if it’s not fun don’t do it, it’s too much work. It’s like blood, sweat and tears. TV and film (are) super easy, you don’t have to love it. But theater you’ve got to love it to do it.’

Here is a LINK to get your tickets to The Unauthorized Musical Parody of Hocus Pocus.

FILE UNDER: Stage

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