Since 2013, NBC has made that live musical into a December legacy that viewers look front to every year — and Wednesday night"s Hairspray Live! is no exception. The show additionally continues another time-honored legacy of the musical itself: the role of Edna Turnblad is played by a male — Harvey Fierstein reprises the personality he played in the Broadway version and for i beg your pardon he won a Tony. But why is Tracy"s mom constantly played through a guy in Hairspray and not a woman? The origins of this casting an option can it is in traced to the original 1988 man Waters movie Hairspray that started it all.You room watching: Why is edna turnblad play by a man

In the "80s music film, drag performer and frequent Waters collaborator magnificent played the function of shy mommy Edna Turnblad to Ricki Lake"s Tracy. Once the film was adjusted for Broadway and premiered in 2002. Fierstein auditioned and also won the role for the Broadway production with Waters" blessing, follow to The advocate in 2002, a casting an option that appeared to cement the heritage of Edna being played by a man. "From the minute they offered the duty I knew the Edna was no a traction role," Fierstein composed in Playbill in 2003. "While payment homage come this wonderful performer , I required to create an Edna all my own."

You are watching: Why is edna turnblad played by a man


But Waters composed in range in 2007 that also he is unsure of just how the heritage started. "Edna Turnblad isn’t a drag-queen part," the director created in the publication. "It has become a tradition for males to play her, just like Peter Pan, wherein it is constantly played by a woman. Why, ns don’t know. It gives it one edge." according to The Baton Rouge Advocate, though, over there is no definite dominance that Edna need to be played by a man. The new York time reported that the Broadway version director Jack O"Brien stated that Edna is "a female character whose DNA ... Requires that she be played by a male — the cosmic opposite of Peter Pan."

The tradition carried on with actors such together Michael McKean, Bruce Vilanch, Blake Hammond, and also George Wendt play Edna top top Broadway. In the 2007 movie variation of Hairspray, man Travolta took on the role, which was a task the Grease gibbs took really seriously, the told the brand-new York Times. "I didn’t desire it to be ‘John Travolta plays Edna,’" he claimed to the newspaper in 2007.

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"That’s no interesting.See more: just how Do You to speak To come to be In Spanish : 5 different Ways to Say the It had to be something I can go all the method with, disappear in, like I did in the bill Clinton role in primary Colors or in Saturday Night Fever."

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

Though this casting choice could it is in problematic relying on how the character is portrayed, and Newsweek doubted whether it"s naturally misogynistic, Hairspray Live! appears to view it as much more of a tradition. And considering his history with the role, Fierstein to be a solid selection to pat Edna in the NBC musical.