Since 2013, NBC has actually made the live musical into a December heritage that viewers look front to yearly — and Wednesday night"s Hairspray Live! is no exception. The show likewise continues an additional time-honored legacy of the musical itself: the role of Edna Turnblad is play by a man — Harvey Fierstein reprises the character he played in the Broadway version and for i beg your pardon he won a Tony. But why is Tracy"s mom always played through a guy in Hairspray and not a woman? The beginnings of this casting choice can be traced to the initial 1988 john Waters movie Hairspray that started it all.

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In the "80s music film, drag performer and also frequent Waters collaborator divine played the role of shy mother Edna Turnblad come Ricki Lake"s Tracy. Once the film was adjusted for Broadway and premiered in 2002. Fierstein auditioned and also won the duty for the Broadway manufacturing with Waters" blessing, follow to The advocate in 2002, a casting an option that seemed to cement the legacy of Edna being played by a man. "From the minute they available the function I knew the Edna was no a drag role," Fierstein created in Playbill in 2003. "While payment homage come this exorbitant performer , I essential to develop an Edna every my own."


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But Waters wrote in variety in 2007 that also he is unsure of how the legacy started. "Edna Turnblad isn’t a drag-queen part," the director wrote in the publication. "It has become a legacy for men to play her, just like Peter Pan, wherein it is always played through a woman. Why, ns don’t know. It offers it one edge." according to The Baton Rouge Advocate, though, over there is no definite preeminence that Edna need to be play by a man. The brand-new York time reported the the Broadway version director Jack O"Brien said that Edna is "a mrs character who DNA ... Needs that she be play by a masculine — the cosmic the opposite of Peter Pan."

The tradition brought on with actors such as Michael McKean, Bruce Vilanch, Blake Hammond, and George Wendt play Edna top top Broadway. In the 2007 movie variation of Hairspray, man Travolta took on the role, which was a job the Grease actor took really seriously, he told the new York Times. "I didn’t desire it to it is in ‘John Travolta theatre Edna,’" he said to the newspaper in 2007. "That’s not interesting.

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It had actually to it is in something I might go every the means with, disappear in, favor I walk in the bill Clinton duty in main Colors or in Saturday Night Fever."


The 2007 movie version was created by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who are additionally the executive, management producers that NBC"s Hairspray Live! In 2007, the Chicago Tribune reported that Meron said Travolta was cast as Edna in bespeak to continue the tradition of the musical, i beg your pardon has ongoing years later on in the NBC live version of the musical.

Though this casting selection could be problematic depending on how the personality is portrayed, and Newsweek questioned whether it"s inherently misogynistic, Hairspray Live! seems to view it as more of a tradition. And considering his history with the role, Fierstein to be a solid an option to beat Edna in the NBC musical.