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HAIRSPRAY

The Hairspray Family
While the importance of chasing a dream and working for social change are recurring themes in Hairspray, the film is ultimately about family. Whether it's the Turnblads, the Stubbs, the Von Tussles or the Pingletons, the film repeatedly stresses the importance of family in a person's life.

That sense of family extended to the film's production as well, with long friendships between producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan and between composer-lyricist Marc Shaiman and lyricist Scott Wittman (when Zadan directed the Broadway production of "Up In One” in 1979, starring singer/songwriter Peter Allen, his musical director was a then 19 year-old Marc Shaiman). Shaiman, Wittman and director-choreographer Adam Shankman have also been friends for over 20 years. However, perhaps the best example would be the familial relationship between Shankman and associate choreographer/2nd unit director Anne "Mama” Fletcher. The two friends met in 1990 when both were appearing as dancers on that year's Academy Awards broadcast and have been friends and collaborators ever since.

"After we met on the Oscars, Mama became my assistant,” says Shankman. "When I then turned to directing, she sort of took over where I was leaving off with my choreography jobs. Next thing you know, she‘s directing her own movie, Step Up, which I produced. So it's been really cool for us as friends to watch each other graduate to the next level of our careers.”

"Adam and I have worked together and known each other for so long that we have our own language that nobody really understands,” says Fletcher, laughing. "For Hairspray, we just fell right back into what we do so well together and we both realized early on how lucky we are to have had this opportunity.”

Fletcher goes on to say that this film is "the soul” of Adam Shankman. "If anyone was to ask me, ‘What is Adam's stamp as a choreographer?,' this would be it,” she says. "Hairspray is essentially everything that Adam is as a person and an artist. If I had to pick one genre, one idea, one song, one musical, one word to describe his style, I would say Hairspray.”

Fletcher goes on to describe the four-ring circus that was the rehearsal process for this film. She says that she has never seen Shankman choreograph as fast or as effortlessly as he did for Hairspray.

"He was a choreography machine,” says Fletcher. "He just pumped it out from his entire being. It was amazing to watch as we started rehearsals. It began with Adam and me, and then our other two associate choreographers Joey Pizzi and Jamal Sims and our assistant choreographer Zach Woodlee came into the studio with us. They started learning the steps and sequences so that by the time we started bringing the dancers and the principal cast to Toronto, we all had our designated duties. Adam oversaw everything and would bounce back and forth between all the rehearsal rooms and recording sessions. While I would be working with Michelle Pfeiffer in one room, Jamal would be next door with the Detention Kids, Joey would be working with John and Christopher on their duet, and Zach might be down the hall working with Nikki. It was a scheduling nightmare, but it was so cool for all of us because we were just moving all day every day and we did that for about six weeks before we started shooting.”

"It was a pretty crazy time that I'll never forget,” adds Shankman. "It was creative and fun and that's when I am the happiest.”

Shankman and Fletcher agree that if there is one number in Hairspray that characterizes the collective experience of everyone involved, it would have to be the film's finale, "You Can't Stop the Beat.”

"Okay, that has to be the longest song in musical history, but it's probably some of the best choreography Adam has ever done,” says Fletcher. "I'm just so proud of him for that number because it just grew and grew. There are so many<

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