Before Hairspray made its way to Broadway, where it would go on to win the Tony Award for best musical, the show’s leading man left the production.
“We went out of town to start doing the show and our Link Larkin got a movie and left us cold,” says Marissa Jaret Winokur, who is featured in the current issue of PEOPLE.
Winokur, who starred as plus-size optimist Tracy Turnblad in the musical based on the 1988 John Waters film of the same name, says she decided to get involved in the casting process.
“Matt Morrison was the hot chorus boy and I kept saying to them, ‘Matt Morrison is really hot. He should do it’ – only because I thought he was hot,” she says of the Gleestar. “I didn’t know if he was talented or anything. He was just that cute boy with the big curly hair. I said, ‘That’s my Link.’ But the joke is on us. He blew up and is everywhere.”
Of course, being costars meant making out in eight shows a week.
“My boyfriend at the time, who is now my husband, would come visit and I would be, like, ‘I like the way Matt kisses better,’ ” jokes Winokur, who wed TV producer Judah Miller in 2006.
Now, Winokur will cameo in NBC’s TV event based on the Broadway musical inspired by Waters’ 1988 film, Hairspray Live!
“I said, ‘Even if there’s something fun for us to do backstage, I just want to be a part of it,’ ” she says.
After a successful first season, The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts has announced the 2016-17 lineup for Broadway Up Close, hosted by Sirius XM Radio Star Seth Rudetsky. Formerly known as the Seth Rudetsky Broadway Concert Series, the Broadway Up Close concert series will consist of four performances featuring renowned actors from the stage and screen.
This season’s lineup will include Tony Award winners Chita Rivera and Alice Ripley, the Tony, Emmy & Golden Globe nominated star of Glee, Matthew Morrison, and Grammy, Tony & Emmy nominated star Vanessa Williams. Broadway Up Close is presented in association with Mark Cortale Productions.
“This new season of Broadway Up Close adds another layer to our fabulous Broadway programming by providing access to the best of Broadway in our intimate Perelman Theater,” said Anne Ewers, President and CEO of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. “These cabaret-style performances, hosted by the incomparable Seth Rudetsky, give audiences an opportunity to experience Broadway as the title implies, up close, through song and stories from their favorite artists.”
In a new BuzzFeed quiz, fans can determine which of the stars they identify with, based on the roles that made each famous. The quiz can be accessed here.
The 2016-17 Broadway Up Close season will consist of the following performances: Matthew Morrison on Saturday, December 17, 2016; Vanessa Williams on Saturday, January 21, 2017; Alice Ripley on Saturday, May 6, 2017; and Chita Rivera on Saturday, June 3, 2017. All performances in the Broadway Up Close season will take place in the Perelman Theater in the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts with the exception of Chita Rivera, which will take place at the Merriam Theater. A full schedule of dates and venues follows.
Matthew and Renee pose with Kristin Chenoweth, Andy Karl and Orfeh backstage at the last performance of “Kristin Chenoweth: My Love Letter to Broadway” at the Lunt Fontanne Theatre on November 13, 2016 in NYC.
Leslie Kritzer will host the benefit performance which will be presented for one night only on Monday, November 14, 2016 at 7:30 pm at New World Stages (340 West 50th Street). West End star, Summer Strallen will read the stage directions.
Tickets for Proud of Us… are $75, $150, $250 and are now on sale at www.actorsfund.org or by calling 212.221.7300 ext. 133. Tickets that include a post-performance cast party will be available for a donation of $500. For details, visit www.actorsfund.org.
WOWOW, Japan’s leading premium pay TV broadcaster, announced today that Matthew Morrison (“Finding Neverland” “South Pacific,” “Hairspray”), Kelli O’Hara (“The King and I”) and well-known Japanese actor Yoshio Inoue have signed on as headline performers for WOWOW’s highly anticipated “Tony Awards Concert In Tokyo,” which will take place on March 18th, 2017.
Morrison, who most recently starred as “J.M Barrie” in the Harvey Weinstein musical “Finding Neverland,” and was nominated for a Tony Award for his role in “The Light in the Piazza,” and O’Hara, the 2015 Tony-Award winner for “The King and I,” will bring cherished Broadway hits to life and recreate the magic for the Japanese audience. WOWOW will broadcast the concert from the Tokyo International Forum, which seats over 5,000 people.
Kayo Washio, who runs WOWOW’s Los Angeles office, and is producing the concert event for WOWOW, said, “These performers have instilled in me a passion for theater over the years. Matthew’s reputation on Broadway precedes him. And Kelli’s voice takes me to another time and place. Yoshio has established himself as the foremost musical actor in Japan and I can’t wait to see what he’ll bring to our stage. I’m so honored to have them all on board for our special concert.”
“It’s an honor to have been invited to participate in this special event, and to bring Broadway’s rich tradition to the beautiful people of Japan,” said Morrison. “I look forward to sharing some of what I consider the most important music in performing arts history, and to commemorate the productions that originally brought these songs to life.”
O’Hara added “After spending over a year working with my brilliant leading man, Ken Watanabe, in ‘The King and I,’ nothing excites me more than traveling to his beloved homeland for the very first time to perform with another of my favorite leading men, Matthew Morrison!”
The premium musical concert has official recognition from the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League. An increase in Broadway musical fandom in Japan has led to aspirations for this concert to become an annual event, with WOWOW to continue to produce alongside a variety of major stage show programs such as straight plays, musicals, ballets, traditional Japanese theatre, and opera (WOWOW is official broadcaster of New York’s’ famed Metropolitan Opera “The Met”).
WOWOW has an agreement to broadcast the Tony Awards that see the annual show broadcast live in Japan, exclusively on WOWOW. The American Theatre Wing‘s Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.
The concert set list will consist of renowned Broadway musical songs and memorable performances from the Tony Awards.
“I just got back from Provincetown, where I did a show with Matthew Morrison. Yowza! Does he put out, theatrically! So many songs had dance breaks and his encore was “Singin’ in the Rain” with a dance break and an umbrella prop. Brava! Matt said his dancing began as a kid when he was in a “gang.” Of course, he lived in Orange County, CA, so I assume his gang was all pre-med students. Nonetheless, he said he would graffiti things and his “tag name” was Skyler. He said there was a girl he had a crush on, and her name was Skyler, and he thought it was a cool name. Tag name? From that explanation, I think he meant drag name. Anyhoo, he and his gang would get cardboard (as one does) and break dance all the time. Now that he’s older, he calls it “broke dancing” because the day after he does some steps, his body feels broke. I asked him what his signature step was and he said he could hoist his body up on one arm and pinwheel his legs. I then moved my chair back so he’d demonstrate but he wouldn’t do it for fear of a full body collapse. Cut to, by the time he came out for his encore, he hauled out his signature step and the crowd went wild. If they ever make a Broadway musical out of “Breakin,’” the 1984 film, please hire Matt. Yes, that was a film.
Before Matt ever did Broadway, he was in a fake boy band that the David Letterman show put together. It was called “Freshstep” (after the kitty litter), and he told me there was a song they did that was supposed to be from a film about a boy falling in love with a Deaf girl. The song was called “Don’t Talk To The Hand (Talk to the Heart).” Hilarious…and I found a clip online! And you can see Footloose star Jeremy Kushnier in the group as well!
I asked Matt how he got Glee, and he told us that he sent in an audition tape and they liked it. Then he had to go in person to audition for Ryan Murphy. He had just done a play with Jill Clayburgh, and she had worked with Ryan, so he asked her for advice. She basically told him to go in and flirt with Ryan. How did it go, I asked? His answer: “I got the job.” WERK!
Logo today announced that legend of stage and screen Harvey Fierstein and seminal LBGT news outlet The Advocate will be honored during the third annual “Trailblazer Honors,” a television special that celebrates PIONEERS at the forefront of LGBT equality. For the first time, VH1 and Logowill simulcast the “Trailblazer Honors,” the largest televised LGBT Pride event, on Saturday, June 25 at 8pm ET/7pm CT. The one-hour special is an official event of NYC Pride Week and will be held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, one of the first religious institutions in New York City to champion the causes of LGBT people. Fierstein and The Advocate join previous years’ honorees including the Obama Administration, Edie Windsor, Judy and Dennis Shepard, as well asLaverne Cox and the cast of “Orange is the New Black.”
The Gala was attended by 170 guests. The evening began at 6:00pm with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the Grand Tier at New York City Center, located at 131 W. 55th Street, and lead into the 7:00pm concert. Following the performance, guests enjoyed dinner, dessert, and a brief live auction led by Steve Rosen at Le Parker Meridien’s beautiful Estrela Penthouse, located at 119 W. 56th Street.
The event was led by Chairs Antonia and George Grumbach and Ellen F. Marcus, and Co-Chairs Jewelle and Nathaniel Bickford, Jill K. Malila, Judy and Morton Sloan, Deborah Stiles, and Adèle K. and John Talty. The Corporate Co-Chair was AON.
The Dido and Aeneas program and 2016 Spring Benefit was dedicated to the memory of James S. Marcus, longtime MasterVoices Board Member. MasterVoices is forever grateful for his and his wife Ellen’s generosity, and will always remember Jim for his boundless spirit, tremendous wisdom, and deep love of music.
Photos by Erin Baiano for BroadwayWorld. All the pictures can be seenhere.