5th Avenue Theatre Parade Hairspray Anything Goes 1776

writing: articles, sales copy, and editing


client: The 5th Avenue Theatre
project: Hairspray Articles

When Hairspray played The 5th Avenue in 2001, it was still in development. New York agencies supplied the brochure copy and imagery, but we generated all the other written materials ourselves.

The show was based on the movie of the same name, directed by John Waters — an intelligent, saavy and strange man.


Writer/Director of the movie that inspired the musical

Born in Baltimore, MD in 1946, John Waters was drawn to movies at an early age. He subscribed to Variety at the age of twelve, absorbing the magazine's factual information and its lexicon of insider lingo. This early education would prove useful as the future director began his career giving puppet shows for children's birthday parties. As a teen-ager, Waters made 8-mm movies, influenced by the likes of Jean-Luc Godard, Walt Disney, Andy Warhol, Russ Meyer, Ingmar Bergman and Herschell Gordon Lewis.

Using Baltimore, which he fondly dubbed the "Hairdo Capitol of the World" as the setting for all his films, Waters assembled a cast of mostly-Baltimorean ensemble players: Divine, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Mink Stole and Edith Massey.

With his first 8-mm short in 1964, entitled Hag in a Black Leather Jacket, Waters launched a successful (albeit infamous) film career, each new film further cementing his cult celebrity status. His 1972 movie Pink Flamingos became one of the most notorious films in the American independent cinema of the 1970s and is still a perennial midnight-screening favorite today. In 1981, Waters completed Polyester, a wide-screen comic melodrama filmed in glorious "Odorama." Ticket buyers were given scratch 'n' sniff cards, that allowed them to smell along with the characters in their fragrant search for romantic happiness.

In Hairspray (1988), Waters created "an almost big-budget comedy extravaganza about star-struck teen-age celebrities in 1962, their stage mothers and their quest for mental health." The film was a box office and critical success, and starred the then-unknown Ricki Lake, Deborah Harry, the late Sonny Bono, Jerry Stiller, Pia Zadora and Ric Ocasek. The success of Hairspray begat his next feature, Cry-Baby (1990), a juvenile delinquent musical comedy satire starring Johnny Depp. In 1994, Waters released Serial Mom, starring Kathleen Turner and Sam Waterston, which was the closing night attraction at that year's Cannes Film Festival. Waters has also directed Roman Candles, Eat Your Make Up, Mondo Trasho, The Diane Linkletter Story, Multiple Maniacs, Female Trouble, Desperate Living, Pecker, and Cecil B. DeMented.