Seriously? OMG! WTF? » NBC is changing things up for Hairspray Live!
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[ # ] NBC is changing things up for Hairspray Live!
August 3rd, 2016 under Hairspray, NBC

Over the last few years, NBC has done three wonderful live Broadway musical performances from a soundstage in NYC. Then Fox got into the game with a live show and changed things up. Grease did its production from Los Angeles and took things outside of the studio.
Yesterday, NBC announced at the NBCUniversal Summer 2016 TCA Press Tour, on December 7th, Hairspray Live is going to be dancing its way over to the Universal Studios Hollywood and they will be using part of the lot to make it look like they are in Baltimore.
Alex Rudzinski, Live Television Director, who also directed Grease Live, talked about working on this lot as compared to Warner Bros. He said, “I’m hugely excited to be able to use the Universal backlot as a space. In fact, what I can tell you is that Hairspray’s going to be using a much bigger area of the backlot than we ever did on Grease, so it’s very ambitious in terms of what we’re doing. Then he added, “But I think that’s a reflection on the excitement of the narrative and the story of Hairspray brings us. And what a fantastic cast we have in order to be able to use that space and use the dynamics of really being out on the backlot on this fantastically huge street that we’re recreating suburban Baltimore. And I think that’s going to be just an energy of scale that’s really going to make the show immersive for the viewers and make it really fun to watch.”
Something that is fun about watching a live event that is filmed outdoors is how the elements will affect the performance. When Grease went live earlier this year, we had a rare rainstorm that brought so much wind; several trees fell over in Burbank. How is Rudzinski planning for that? He revealed, “In any live broadcast, part of us as a team of producers and directors doing our due diligence is planning for the worst-case scenario in every area, not just weather. It’s in every technical part and every casting part. So you set up practices. You rehearse elements that can be under cover if it’s raining, but you hope you never risk the quality of the broadcast in any way.” Reminding us that, “And I think in Grease it rained for part of the outside scenes. I don’t think it detracted from the performance. Again, as part of the enjoyment of a live broadcast, it’s accepting the real-timeness of the event. So as long as we, as a team, embrace it and go with it, then it’s still going to be a superb night.”
Another change is that Director Kenny Leon told me there will be an audience for the scenes that call for one. For example when they are doing scenes from The Corny Collins Show. I think that factor will help to give the NBC productions more warmth.
I never was able to put my finger on what was missing from The Sound of Music, Peter Man and The Wiz until a Television Director, who worked on some live TV shows, pointed out to me there was no audience to laugh and applaud at the appropriate times. Without those sounds, it comes off as a little cold and vacant. Human interaction and live feedback is what stage actors feed off of and it also helps you feel like you are part of something.
Basically, what I am saying, is all of these changes have made me really excited for Hairspray Live! So get the hairspray ready for Hairspray!



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