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Interview with star Harvey Fierstein
and choreographer Jerry Mitchell of "Hairspray Live! on NBC
Moderator: Joey Levine
2016 2:00 pm CT
Operator: Ladies and gentlemen thank
you for standing by. Welcome to the Hairspray Live Creative
Corner conference call press and media.
presentation all participants will be in a listen only mode.
Shortly afterwards we will conduct a question and answer
session. At that time if you have a question press the 1
followed by the 4 on your telephone. If at any time during
the conference you need to speak an Operator press star 0.
As a reminder this conference is being recorded Monday,
November 21, 2016. I will now turn the conference over to
Joey Levine, Press Manager.
Joey Levine: Hi everyone.
And thank you for joining today’s call for Hairspray Live.
We’re continuing our Creative Corner Series of
conversations. And we’re happy to welcome choreographer
Jerry Mitchell and Harvey Fierstein who not only stars as an
Edna Turnblad but also wrote the teleplay for Hairspray
So as soon as you guys are ready we can start
our Q&A session. After your question feel free to register
for an additional question by dialing into the queue.
We’ll get started now. Thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen if you would like to register a
question press the 1 followed by the 4 on your telephone.
You will hear a three tone prompt to acknowledge your
request. If your question has been answered and you would
like to withdraw your registration press the 1 followed by
the 3. Once again for a question it’s 1, 4.
first question comes from the line of Suzanne Lanoue with TV
MegaSite. Please go ahead.
Jerry Mitchell: Good
Suzanne Lanoue: Hi. Let’s see. My first
question is for Jerry. I was wondering in order to do
choreography for this play for television was there anything
special that you learned in figuring it out?
Mitchell: Well I’ve worked in film and television before so
there’s nothing special. I actually came to the project with
my choreography from the original Broadway production which
I used as my base to get started. But the great thing and
the thing that makes a difference is you’re working with a
360 degree angle. You’re not in a proscenium like a theater.
So it’s a little bit more like doing theater in the
round. But it’s been really exciting and we’re getting some
amazing footage. So I’m really excited about what’s going to
Suzanne Lanoue: Great, can’t wait. And Harvey
what were your main goals in figuring out how to make
Hairspray from – updating it the way you did for the play
Harvey Fierstein: Well it’s not so much a
matter of updating because as you know the play takes place
in 1962. The story takes place in ’62 so we’re not updating
in that way. What my concern was having performed this show
1000 times I know what this show does to an audience. That
live audience goes insane.
And when they leave the
theater they are so high and so happy, so joyous about life.
I was – my big concern was how do we translate to the home
where somebody’s watching it at home and they get that
excited and that happy?
So that really was my concern
is how do we tell the story in the more intimate, you know -
because after all you’re watching it at home, you could be
in your underwear or whatever. Television is a very intimate
medium. So how do we reach you, tell that story, be true to
the story but still get you excited about life and present
And of course that has a lot to do with the
performances. I stuck as closely as I could to the original
Broadway. I did make some adjustments to – for - you know,
so that the story really lived on that smaller box. But
basically I wanted to try and get you excited and happy
Suzanne Lanoue: All right. Well I hope
you succeed. And I’ll look forward to it.
Fierstein: I hope you enjoy it.
Suzanne Lanoue: Thank
Operator: Our next question comes from the line
of Stephanie Piché with Mingle Media TV. Please go ahead.
Stephanie Piché: Thank you. Hi Harvey and Jerry. It’s a
pleasure to talk to you both. Thank you for taking time
today. So excited to see this because it’s one of my
favorites of all times.
My question for Harvey, can
you tell me what you’re seeing in the new cast members that
are coming especially newcomer Maddie who plays Tracy? What
do you have to say about the new cast members you’re working
Harvey Fierstein: Well, you know, the wonderful
part about theater is it’s always alive. You know a movie,
you make a movie, it’s done, it’s finished. Three hundred
years from now it’s exactly the same as it was the day you
make it. Theater is a living thing and every day changes and
that’s the way this is with Hairspray Live.
a new Tracy obviously it’s all new blood. I’m so excited for
you to see her. Maddie Baillio is, I think, a true star. She
has a voice that is just wonderful. It’s poppy, it’s
exciting, it’s real. She has a spirit that is indomitable.
She moves and attacks Jerry’s beautiful choreography with
such gusto. She just dives in.
We’ve been working
together for six weeks now. I have never once heard her
complain about anything. And trust me we’re working her hard
and she is in there. She’s excited about life. She’s excited
to do this. She wants to do it. And it’s wonderful. You know
it’s given me a whole new light to have this terrific new
And then the other people Ariana has
always loved Hairspray kind of like you have. She and has
been dying to play this role so she gets to do it. Jennifer
I’ve known for a couple years and we’ve had Kristin
Chenoweth and I go back, I don’t want to say how many
So, you know, so you have all kinds of new
friends and old friends, the kids give it - you know these
kids give it all their energy.
And what Jerry has
done if he doesn’t mind my tooting his whistle, he has taken
the original choreography but it’s expanded. You know what
he did was he created a language of dance that kids could
invent themselves. That’s what was exciting about the dances
of that period. Kids made up these dances themselves. You
know what I mean? Any kid could do them. And Jerry’s taken
that simplicity and then raised it to an art form. It’s very
Stephanie Piché: Wow I can’t wait. I wish
it was tomorrow.
Harvey Fierstein: Well I’m ready.
I’m ready. I’ve got my stuff ready.
Okay. And Jerry how is it working with – I know you have
expert dancers like Derek Hough. But how about with someone
like Dove Cameron who doesn’t come with a lot of dance
experience but a lot of raw talent, how is it working with…?
Jerry Mitchell: It’s like Harvey said that, you know,
when I first approached the show and the story of the show I
realized that it’s not really about professional dancers.
It’s about young kids who want to dance on a teen TV show.
So I tried to keep the dancing simplistic. And Dove, you
know, when she – when we cast Dove in the show she was
actually doing a movie. But we met here in LA and we put a
bunch of her stuff on video. So she took it up to Vancouver,
I think she was filming. And she practiced every day. When
she showed up on the set, sure enough she had all her steps
So, you know, we’ve done that with – even with
Marty Short. He loves to tape the choreography then take it
home and work on it.
So we’ve been giving them all
their private tutoring sessions. But they’ve been working
for really hard really for the past eight weeks with me.
Three weeks Maddie started in New York with me for two solid
weeks just of dance before she came out here and started to
learn the score on this and the lines.
So we did like
three weeks of pre-production dance. And it paid off, paid
off big time.
Operator: Our next question comes from
the line of Scott Katz with USTownhall.com. Please go ahead.
Scott Katz: Yes. Hi. Thanks to both of you for taking
our call today.
My first question is for Harvey
Fierstein. I just want to know just the backstory of how you
came to be involved in this new production of Hairspray and
also how you agreed to write the book for this musical. Did
you feel any kind of trepidation for going back and redoing
something you had done in the past in addition to that?
Harvey Fierstein: Okay. Yes. Well I’ll tell you. Last
year I wrote The Wiz. You know I wrote the teleplay for The
Wiz presentation last year and I worked with Kenny and had a
wonderful time working with Kenny and, you know, and Craig.
And then they called me. And they said, “Would you mind
writing the teleplay for Hairspray even if you’re not acting
And I said not at all because truthfully I’m
one of the original writers. I’m uncredited but I’m actually
one of the original writers of the show. I also wrote the
adaptation that we did in Las Vegas. And I wrote the
adaptation we did at the Hollywood Bowl.
So I’m - you
know I’m pretty familiar with the show and then working with
Jerry of course because Jerry and I had worked together in
Las Vegas – you know not only Broadway but the Las Vegas and
the Hollywood Bowl.
So, you know, I just – I felt
very relaxed about that. So I had no problem at all stepping
in as the writer of the teleplay.
Scott Katz: Okay.
And for Jerry, sort of following up on the last question,
because you have such a wide range of experience in terms of
your actors and their dancing background, how do you
approach each actor and kind of nurture them along when you
see maybe one actor can take to choreography a lot more
easily and then you have Derek Hough who did win awards for
his own choreography on the other end of the scale? You know
how do you kind of work with each actor? What’s your process
for doing that?
Jerry Mitchell: Well just probably
what you’re saying is I pay attention to each actor. And I
look at their scale of ability and their – and how they
operate. And I try to figure out how I can best serve them
and when they’re ready for more and when they’re ready for
less and when I need to push them and when I need to back
off and let them live in it for a bit.
So I do have a
lot of experience with dance and different kinds of actors
in film, television and stage. So it’s basically, you know,
working with the actor. And what can I do to help them be
the best that they can be.
Derek has been
sensational. He – and they’ve all been sensational. But, you
know, and also educating them a little bit about the 60s and
what movement was like in the 60s compared to what it is
like today. So it’s been fun.
Scott Katz: Okay great.
And then I know everybody has seen it said this is one of
the best modern musicals and I wish you a whole lot of luck
with it. And I hope it’s a big success for you guys.
Jerry Mitchell: Thank you.
Operator: Our next
question comes from the line of Caryn Robbins with Broadway
World. Please go ahead.
Caryn Robbins: Hi. Thanks so
much for doing this today. I know it was recently revealed
that Ricki Lake and Marissa Jaret Winokur are going to have
cameos in the show which is so exciting.
Mitchell: I don’t know if I’m supposed to give away their
cameos so I don’t want to say anything until I’ve been given
the – they’re going to be appearing together in a sequence
in the show.
Caryn Robbins: Okay. And I was wondering
if you can maybe both briefly talk about how the message of
the show is perhaps even more relevant than ever in light of
recent events in the country.
Jerry Mitchell: Well,
you know, the message of Hairspray, when we opened Hairspray
on Broadway we – it had not had an African American serving
as President of the United States. And that certainly was a
big part of our journey. And that changed - and that made
things different for all of us in a very positive way. And
the show is certainly at the forefront of that experience.
But I think Hairspray is needed now more today with the
recent turnout of our election than ever before because
inclusion and everyone just dancing together is really what
it boils down to in a very simple message. And it couldn’t
be more needed today than it has ever been in the past.
Harvey Fierstein: As you just said it’s a funny thing.
You know in the past few years we’ve watched the Supreme
Court get rid some of the Voting Rights Act and we watched
them get rid of quotas, you know, for some schools. And I
said to myself maybe they know better than I do. I don’t
think we’ve moved ahead that far. But maybe they’re smarter
than I am. They are Supreme Court Justices. Maybe the world
has moved on.
Well we just had an election where we
found out very strongly and in no uncertain terms no we
haven’t gotten that far. I don’t think that’s a terrible
thing. I think it’s a good thing to know where you are for
real. I think when you are kidding yourself you’re kidding
And I think America just got a wakeup call
as to who we are and what our differences are. And we now
know the work ahead of us. And Hairspray is a really good
reminder that just a few years ago in our history we
couldn’t even dance together.
I think we need to
remember that and say, “Is that really what we want to go
back to. Do we really want to go back to days where people
lived in constant fear of touching each other, of talking to
each other, of being together? Do we want a separated
divided America or do we want an America that is stronger
because we’re all together?”
Hairspray in its very
gentle, fun, John Waters way carries that message. And I
hope that people tune in and enjoy it.
That’s beautifully said. And I agree 100%. Thanks so much.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of David
Gordon with TheaterMania. Please go ahead.
Gordon: Hi gentlemen. Thanks for doing this, looking forward
to the show as always.
I’ve read that there will be a
live audience for this one. And I’m just curious how it will
be factored into the broadcast if you can give it away.
Jerry Mitchell: Oh well obviously the Corny Collins Show
is a teen dance show so there’s an audience watching the
show in the studio. That’s one way we’re going to use our
live audience, their applause after the end of Good Morning
Baltimore will transition us to the Corny Collins Studio
where we immediately pick up with Nicest Kids in Town.
So they’ll be a part of the show. Then we’ll have
audiences scattered throughout the back lot watching the
performances. I’m not sure we’re ever going to break the
fourth wall and say oh that’s a modern-day audience. But we
are using the audience in the Corny Collins Show. And we go
to the Corny Collins Show four times and of course we…
Harvey Fierstein: Yes and the big finale.
Mitchell: The big finale, yes. And we’ve got some surprises
in there with the audience.
David Gordon: Cool.
Harvey given that you are so familiar with Hairspray, the
material, can you talk a little bit about your adaptation
and whether this is going to be like a supersized version of
Hairspray that will combine the show and the movie and the
original movie and all of that?
Yes. No. My concern, you know, when we were writing the show
in the first place we sort of digested the movie and
decided, you know, John Waters’ movie and decided what we
wanted from that movie and what we didn’t.
had – that decision had already been done. The move – the
Hollywood movie really didn’t play very much into this
because it changed the story and did things that I
personally would never have done if, you know, if it was…
Jerry Mitchell: Basically we’ve stuck very, very close
to the Broadway production. You know obviously you’re
limited with time on television. And as opposed to stage
where you could be a musical, be anything between two hours
and three hours depending on what you want to deliver and
how you want to deliver it.
So we’re following pretty
much the actual shape of the Broadway musical. We have
included the song Lady’s Choice. We’ve – we do not have a
big dollhouse. I think that’s already been spoken about. But
we do have Lady’s Choice and we have Come So Far which is
our curtain call number.
And but otherwise we’re
sticking close to the Broadway version.
How are you – can you talk about how you’re reimaging your
choreography like You Can’t Stop the Beat and Good Morning
Baltimore and all of the big production numbers?
Jerry Mitchell: Well Good Morning Baltimore takes place
outside on the street and that’s Baltimore.
know, I’ve had to reimagine it quite a bit. And but I think
the people who are fans of the Broadway production will be
extremely excited about the way the show starts and how I’ve
taken the Broadway production and the Broadway idea and now
made it work for television. I’m excited about it. We had a
– we had some camera tests last week and it was just really
thrilling to see it sort of come to life.
Stop the Beat, when I created that dance for Broadway my
goal was that everyone in the audience would feel like they
can get up and do that step too. The steps for the finale,
Tracy’s steps are exactly the same as they were on Broadway.
The difference is we’ve got more people doing them in a
bigger space with a lot more audience joining us. So it’ll
be fun to see that You Can’t Stop the Beat grow and grow and
grow. It’s hard to be bad when you got a song that’s that
David Gordon: So you didn’t – you guys didn’t
stick very close to the movie remake but closer to the
Harvey Fierstein: Right. The remake we
didn’t. But I was – oh I was about to say that Derek Hough,
because we had Derek Hough Jerry wanted to use a song that
was in the movie called Ladies’ Choice because it’s more of
a dance song. And it would allow Derek to really dance. So
that was one thing that we did. You know that sort of avows
to the new movie.
David Gordon: Would you do Edna
again on Broadway if that opportunity arose?
Fierstein: It’s not my – it’s not really. You know they’re
talking about a revival. And I never say never to anything.
But my next project is a play at the Public Theater. That
Martin Sherman wrote. And I’m really very excited about
doing something new and different. And, you know, I love
Edna. I owe such a debt of gratitude to her and so much to
her. And I will always protect her and be there for her if
she needs me.
Operator: Our next question comes from
the line of Anne Easton with the New York Observer. Please
Anne Easton: Hello gentlemen. These
musicals have been so highly successful for NBC. Do you –
does that put any kind of pressure on you? And if so how do
you deal with that?
Jerry Mitchell: Well I don’t have
time for pressure. This is Jerry talking. No time for
pressure. I mean Hairspray is such a fantastic musical first
and foremost that the opportunity to do it live and for
television, all I’m thinking and concentrating on is getting
it taught, getting it shot and getting everybody in the
right place at the right time. And I think the rest will
take care of itself. It’s too good a project to not come off
in a great way.
Harvey Fierstein: Yes. We’re not in
the marketing side of things. You know we basically do what
we do and then it’s Joey’s job to get them to tune in.
But it’s (very exciting for) both Jerry and I to know
that we’re part of bringing theater, you know, to - right
into your home.
I mean when I was a kid and I’m much
younger than Jerry by maybe 30 or 40 years. I remember
watching that, you know, Peter Pan -- Mary Martin and Peter
Pan -- and it was my favorite thing to look forward to
whenever they would be broadcasted. I was just in absolute
heaven. And I’m hoping that we’re doing the same by doing
these. You never know.
You know it’s – you do every
performance and you just hope that you’re changing lives out
there and you kind of trust that you are. And that’s the way
we approach this.
Anne Easton: Great answer. One of
the big things that goes on, you know, during the broadcast
is a lot of tweeting and people posting on social media.
Will you look at any of that afterwards?
Fierstein: You know I was part of The Wiz. And I just – I
didn’t. But people told me about it. There was a huge, huge
swell of activity especially among African American viewers
during The Wiz. And they were really tweeting about, you
know, what a great time they were having and that was very
exciting to me because then you really know you’re reaching
people. But in a funny way I would like, like texting and
driving, I’d really wish you’d just watch it.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of Kristyn
Burtt with Dance Network. Please go ahead.
Burtt: Yes, thank you. My question is for Jerry. When you
first did Hairspray on Broadway in 2002 I want to know the
differences in the generations of dancers because they’re so
cross-trained now in so many different styles. Do you feel
like it’s helped the dance industry or do you think less of
a classical training has hurt the dance industry?
Jerry Mitchell: Well it depends on the show you’re working
on. I always say a ballet base is great for any dancer
because it just helps you maintain your body no matter what
you’re doing. I mean these kids here they’re dancing on a
sound stage. And then have to run outside and dance on
pavement for the next production number. They don’t have
time to warmup between numbers.
And once the show
starts it’s going full steam ahead. We’ve been starting
every day here with a warmup just to get them used to
warming themselves up for this event.
But, you know,
I don’t think that – look I’m always for a ballet base. It
helps. It helps you pick up different styles. The dance
here, the thing that I’ve been trying to educate the kids
about and even made them watch a documentary on the twist
was, you know, just the styles and the different way people
held their bodies and danced.
John Waters once said
to me that, you know, this show takes place in 1962. And
American – America was still innocent at that time. And
people danced from the waist up. So it’s just a different
Operator: Ladies and gentlemen as a reminder
for a question it’s 1, 4 on your telephone.
question comes from Scott Katz with USTownhall.com. Please
Scott Katz: Yes. Hi. Thank you again. My
question is for both of you. Can you just talk a little bit
each of you, and we’ll start with Harvey, but a little bit
about how your love of musical theater began?
with this cast of young actors what advice would you give
them in their careers going forward? And we’ll start with
Harvey Fierstein: Well I was brought up in
Brooklyn, New York. And I had a mother who loved art. We
went to a museum. We went to a Broadway show. We went to a
premier movie every weekend. Tickets back then for the
balcony were $3. So she could buy tickets for the four us,
my brother, my father, she and I for $12. We could take the
subway into Manhattan and see a Broadway show.
saw everything. And I can actually go into the theaters,
into the Broadway theaters and show you the seat I sat in to
see Oliver, to see How To Succeed, to see Sound of Music, to
see these Broadway shows that are now, you know, the
classics that we think of as the Golden Age. I saw them all.
So of course I love them.
But I was a painting
student. And I got into theater really because I thought
maybe I would do some set design or something. Everything
else just sort of happened.
But I always loved
theater and that – and was brought up in theater. And that’s
the reason that I’m so in love with this idea of bringing
theater into people’s homes.
Jerry Mitchell: Well I
grew up in a very small town in the Midwest where there was
one stoplight. And I started dancing and got involved in
everything I could possibly get involved in from the age of
8 when I joined the Paw Paw Village Players to do The Music
Man until I left town at 17 to be doing national tour of
West Side Story.
But, you know, I think the thing
that I would tell young people and I tell them often is that
they have got to be passionate about being in this business.
If they’re not passionate about it, it won’t show up on the
screen. It won’t show up on stage. It won’t show up
And there are too many people who are
passionate so if you really want a career in this business
you got to love it more than anything else. And really
dedicate yourself to that on every level. And the only other
piece of advice that I’d give them is learn to project.
And when Harvey does something on set Harvey does
something 110%. And all of the young kids who do it and then
they don’t – and then they mark the next time, they see
Harvey leading by example. And so you have to step up to the
plate. You have to step up to the plate.
performance, you know, can never be oh I’ll do it the next
time. That isn’t the way it works, not in live theater. It’s
every time full out all the time. And if you don’t have the
energy for that then you really have to question are you in
the right business because that’s what it takes.
Scott Katz: And is that true even in rehearsal that you
should sort of do the rehearsal as if you’re doing the
Jerry Mitchell: Why not? Like you’re
stretching your muscles…why wouldn’t you use everything
you’ve got every time you’ve got a chance to use it.
Scott Katz: Well Jerry has it been difficult for you or
challenging for you to sort of work around everybody else’s
schedule because right now Derek just finished Dancing with
the Stars? So have you had a lot of chance to work with him
Jerry Mitchell: No, no. He finished actually a
couple weeks ago. But we scheduled our schedule based on
their schedules. So I’ve had tons of time with Derek. And
Derek is amazing. Derek comes in and he is full out. He does
it. He learns it quicker than anybody else. And then he
gives it back to you.
And Derek has never once in all
of our rehearsals said oh I don’t like that step can I try
this, can I – he has been unbelievable, unbelievable. I mean
really like super, super talent and a super sweet man. And
I’m really excited to have this opportunity to work with
him. All of the kids, all of the kids are great. They’re
The one difference between film and
television as opposed to theater is it’s quiet because the
camera picks everything up. And on stage you can’t bring a
stage – a stage performance needs more than a television and
film performance. It needs projection. And that’s what I
mean by I would teach them the difference between projecting
for the stage and projecting for TV and film. They’re two
Joey Levine: All right I apologize;
unfortunately I’m afraid we’re out of time for today.
So I do want to thank you for your questions and for
joining us and again apologies about the phone issues.
But as always a big thank you to Harvey and Jerry for
their time during today’s busy production day. And please be
sure to tune into Hairspray Live on December 7th. Thanks
everyone. And have a great day.
Operator: Ladies and gentlemen that
does conclude the conference call for today. We thank you
for your participation.
Operator: Please disconnect
Based on the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical,
“HAIRSPRAY LIVE!” is a bold new television production coming
to NBC on Wednesday, Dec. 7 (8/7c). In 1962 Baltimore,
teenager Tracy Turnblad’s (newcomer Maddie Baillio) dreams
come true when she earns a spot dancing on the “Corny
Collins Show,” and uses her newfound fame to campaign for
the integration of the all-white TV program.
“Hairspray Live!” also stars Dove Cameron, Kristin
Chenoweth, Garrett Clayton, Harvey Fierstein, Ariana Grande,
Derek Hough, Jennifer Hudson, Ephraim Sykes and Shahadi
Find the latest news on “Hairspray Live!” at
Actor and playwright
HARVEY FIERSTEIN will reprise the Tony
Award-winning role he created on Broadway as Edna Turnblad
in "Hairspray Live!” Fierstein is the author of the revised
book for the new smash hit production of “Funny Girl,”
currently running in London, and wrote the teleplay for
NBC’s broadcast of “The Wiz Live!,” which aired in 2015. An
updated production of “The Wiz” will be heading to Broadway
with his new book. He has also penned the Tony and Olivier
Award-winning Best Musical “Kinky Boots” as well as the
recent Broadway hits “Newsies” (Tony nomination), “Casa
Valentina” (Tony nomination, Best Play), “Torch Song
Trilogy” (Tony, Drama Desk and Obie Awards), “La Cage aux
Folles” (Tony and Drama Desk Awards), “A Catered Affair” (12
Drama Desk nominations), “Safe Sex” (Ace Award), “Legs
Diamond,” “Spookhouse,” “Flatbush Tosca,” “Common Ground”
and more. As an actor, Fierstein is known worldwide
for his performances in films that include “Mrs. Doubtfire,”
“Independence Day” and “Bullets Over Broadway”; on stage in
“Hairspray” (Tony Award), “Fiddler on the Roof,” “La Cage
aux Folles” and Torch Song Trilogy (Tony Award); and on TV
series such as “Smash,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “The Good
Wife,” “Cheers” (Emmy nomination), “The Simpsons,” “Family
Guy” and “Nurse Jackie.” Fierstein’s political editorials
have been published in The New York Times, TV Guide and the
Huffington Post and broadcast on PBS’ “In the Life,” while
his children’s book, “The Sissy Duckling” (Humanitas Award),
is now in its fifth printing.
A two-time Emmy winner and
eight-time nominee JERRY MITCHELL is
choreographer and associate producer of “Hairspray Live!”
He is currently represented on Broadway as the director of
the Gloria Estefan bio-musical “On Your Feet.” He earned his
Tonys for the choreography of the 2013 Tony-winning Best
Musical “Kinky Boots,” for which he was also nominated as
director, and the 2005 revival of “La Cage Aux Folles.” He
was recently nominated for an Olivier Award for his
choreography in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” which he also
directed and co-produced in the West End. In the 35
preceding years, Mitchell has been involved with more than
50 Broadway, Off-Broadway, West End and touring productions,
starting as a dancer for Agnes De Mille in “Brigadoon” and
thereafter assisting Michael Bennett and Jerome Robbins. His
Broadway debut as choreographer on “You’re a Good Man,
Charlie Brown” was followed by “The Full Monty,” “The Rocky
Horror Show,” “Hairspray,” “Gypsy,” “Never Gonna Dance,”
“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” “Imaginary Friends,” “Legally
Blonde,” which he also directed, “Catch Me If You Can” and
“Kinky Boots.” He also choreographed both the Off-Broadway
productions and films of “Hedwig & the Angry Inch” and
“Jeffrey,” the national tour of “Jekyll & Hyde,” Paper Mill
Playhouse’s critically acclaimed “Follies,” featuring Ann
Miller, and “Love Never Dies,” Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s
sequel to his “Phantom of the Opera” for the West End. He
also supervised the Broadway production of “Priscilla, Queen
of the Desert.” Mitchell’s film work includes “In and Out,”
“Scent of a Woman,” “Jeffrey,” “Drop Dead Gorgeous” and
“Camp.” For television, he choreographed several seasons of
“The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” was nominated for an Emmy for
the choreography he created for “The Drew Carey Show,” was
featured as the host of “Step It Up and Dance” and served as
director and choreographer of “Legally Blonde: The Search
for Elle Woods” and “Ice Loves Coco.” Mitchell has also
recently expanded his activities as a theater producer by
forming a partnership with one of the most active and
respected West End producers and theater owners, Ambassador
Theatre Group, with the goal of developing musicals for the
West End and Broadway stages. Twenty-seven years ago,
Mitchell conceived and created “Broadway Bares,” a comedy
burlesque show performed annually for the charity Broadway
Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. He continues to serve as executive
producer of “Broadway Bares,” with a book, website and
satellite productions in Fire Island Pines, N.Y., Las Vegas
(“Peepshow,” which enjoyed a five-year run of continuous
performances) and London (“West End Bares”). Most recently,
Mitchell received the Drama League’s Founders’ Award for
Excellence in Directing and the George Abbott Lifetime
Achievement Award from his peers, the latter being
especially meaningful to him in that he was directed by the
96-year-old Abbott in the Broadway revival of “On Your
Toes.” A native of Paw Paw, Mich., Mitchell attended Webster
Conservatory in St. Louis, from which he received an
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