Friday, June 30, 2006

Can you stop the beat?

I could use this time to discuss the brilliance of Eileen Atkins or the ridiculousness of Encores! doing Follies (which I may focus on in a later post, if I have not gotten over it), but instead I want to take this post to address the rumors of Hairspray's possible demise. These rumors have been around for awhile and a recent Michael Riedel column fanned the flames. Could Hairspray possibly close this winter? Of course it could, but, at this point, I do not think it will. Is this me being crazy? Umm.... Well, I've been called worse, but this time I actually do have a sane argument.

By mid-September, when people expect things to get tough, Hairspray's cast will include Diana DeGarmo, Haylie Duff, Tevin Campbell and Darlene Love. Is that campy enough to warrant a return visit or what? I mean, honestly, I believe the Diana/Haylie factor will bring people in. I know many people don't understand that Haylie Duff is famous and I'm not saying she is Hilary or anything, but she has some fans of her own and she has a name people recognize. She'll push her stint well and so will Hilary, as is already evident. I was talking to my cousins--girls age 11 and 16--and they totally got excited by the Diana/Haylie power combo. If other tourists feel similarly, the fall could be perfectly fine for Hairspray and, thus, the show could weather the winter (even if there are a few losing weeks). And if things aren't too dismal--why wouldn't the producers keep the show open long enough to see if the upcoming movie (scheduled for release in June 2007) helps resuscitate the box office?

Of course a big key to this is publicity. People have to know the Neil Simon is the place to bring your teen and the Duff sisters cannot do it all themselves. Hairspray happens to have the genius publicist Richard Kornberg (he's truly a wonder) on its team and, when Diana was in previously, he really pushed her hard. No matter what people called the Kornberg office about, he changed the topic to Degarmo. And the amazing thing about Richard is it is sort of hard to dismiss him--he gets people to stay on the phone and he keeps throwing things out. If he does the same for Duff (which I have to imagine he will), at least we know people who read entertainment stories or listen to the radio talk shows will know she is in it. Ideally the Hairspray team will also invest in some advertising because the best promotion is really constant Times ads, posters, radio spots and television tauting the cast. Now I know neither of the ladies I'm discussing has a gigantic role--doesn't matter at all. It just matters that they are in it.

So, in summary, if it's not promoted properly, Hairspray could indeed close, but I have complete faith in its appeal. Someday the beat will stop--I just don't personally think that day will be in 2006.

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