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Shaiman, Marc (b. 1959), and Scott Wittman (b. 1955)  
page: 1  2  

After a nationwide tour Hairspray, featuring Harvey Fierstein in the role played by Divine in the movie, took Broadway by storm in August 2002, quickly becoming one of the hottest tickets in the city. The show dominated the 2003 Tony Awards, winning eight, including best musical and best score.

At the end of their acceptance speeches Shaiman declared to Wittman, "I love you, and I'd like to spend the rest of my life with you." The couple then embraced and shared a long and tender kiss. News outlets around the world took note of this affecting moment.

The success of the play led to its adaptation for the big screen. With Shaiman and Wittman serving as executive producers, and Shaiman as the music producer, the movie Hairspray, directed by Adam Shankman and produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, opened in the summer of 2007. Shaiman and Wittman wrote three new songs for the movie.

In addition to that project, Shaiman and Wittman are working on the score for a musical stage version of Stephen Spielberg's 2002 film Catch Me If You Can.

Shaiman also composed the music for the soundtrack of The Bucket List, a film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, released in January 2008.

Shaiman and Wittman have been very generous in contributing their time and talent to fundraisers for AIDS charities, participating in numerous concerts and other benefits to support research and treatment.

[Shaiman's activist spirit also came to the fore after the passage on November 4, 2008, of California's Proposition 8, which amended the state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. Soon after the initiative's passage, he learned that Scott Eckern, the musical director of the California Musical Theater in Sacramento, had donated money to support it. Shaiman found this troubling, since the theater had recently staged a production of Hairspray.

Incensed that funds generated at least in part by his work were used to bolster a cause he opposed, Shaiman helped publicize Ekern's contribution, which led to a threatened boycott of the theater and the director's decision to resign from his position.

Although Shaiman had not asked for Eckern's resignition, he felt somewhat burdened when he learned of the director's decision.

"I did not ask for his resignation, nor would it be my place to ask for someone's resignation," Shaiman told the New York Times. "But I was a part of that, and that is a very heavy weight, and I don't take it lightly."

In addition, Shaiman felt guilty for having been apathetic before the election. "We stupidly allowed ourselves to be lulled into a sense of 'everything's fantastic now,'" Shaiman remarked.

In response, Shaiman decided to do something positive: he sat down at his piano in his home in Los Angeles and wrote "Prop 8--the Musical," a three-minute Internet video that became an immediate hit when it was posted on the Website

Directed by Adam Shankman and featuring Jack Black as Jesus Christ, along with appearances by John C. Reilly, Margaret Cho, Neil Patrick Harris, and others, the video is a song-and-dance diatribe that excoriates the religious right's tendency to "pick and choose" passages from the Bible.

Perhaps the most telling credit for "Prop 8--the Musical" is the one that says Shaiman conceived and wrote the skit "six weeks later than he shoulda."]

Linda Rapp

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arts >> Overview:  Musical Theater and Film

The musical has been a significant aspect of American gay male culture, manifesting itself both in diva worship and, more recently, in the presentation of openly gay characters and shows written by gay writers primarily for gay audiences.

arts >> Divine (Harris Glenn Milstead)

A versatile character actor, nightclub singer, and international cult star who generally performed his stage show and movie roles in drag, Divine became famous through his appearances in John Waters' films.

arts >> Epperson, John

Talented actor and writer John Epperson has had an extremely successful career performing as the glamorous and hilarious drag diva Lypsinka, among other characters.

literature >> Fierstein, Harvey

Award-winning Harvey Fierstein is one of the finest gay male playwrights currently working in the American theater.

arts >> Fierstein, Harvey

Actor Harvey Fierstein has had phenomenal success as both a performer and a playwright, and has been steadfastly committed to the cause of glbtq rights.

arts >> Harris, Neil Patrick

Child actor Neil Patrick Harris has made a successful transition to mature roles, showcasing his singing and dancing abilities along the way; he has also spoken out on behalf of glbtq causes.

arts >> Humphries, Barry

Barry Humphries, a character actor, singer, writer, poet, and painter, is known principally for the stage personas he has developed over a long career.

arts >> Long, William Ivey

Among the most prolific and respected of contemporary costume designers in America, William Ivey Long has always been openly gay in his professional life.

arts >> O'Haver, Tommy

Director and screenwriter Tommy O'Haver has drawn on his own experiences as a gay man in creating films and has also demonstrated his versatility by working on a variety of other cinematic projects.

social sciences >> Proposition 8 (California)

Proposition 8, also known as the California Marriage Protection Act, was the ballot proposition that amended the California state constitution to ban same-sex marriage; after prolonged litigation in both state and federal court, it was finally struck down in June 2013.

arts >> Vilanch, Bruce

Comedy writer and performer Bruce Vilanch has appeared on stage, television, and film and is a tireless proponent of glbtq causes.

arts >> Waters, John

A director, writer, producer, and photographer, John Waters became well known in the early 1970s through his filmic collaboration with actor--and drag queen--Divine.

arts >> Zadan, Craig (b. 1949), and Neil Meron (b. 1955)

Prolific film, television, and stage producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron have created a diverse body of work, including a number of theatrical films and television features with glbtq themes.


Cagle, Jess. "Hollywood's Best Kept Secret." Entertainment Weekly (July 30, 1993): 36-37.

Green, Jesse. "The Pop Alchemist." New York Times (July 21, 2002): Section 6, p. 22.

Isherwood, Charles. "Risky Gamble Scores Marriage Made in Heaven." Variety (April 21, 2003): A8.

Itzkoff, Dave. "For this Songwriter, the Political Is Musical." New York Times (December 5, 2008):

Langton, James. "A Gay Kiss Breaks TV Taboo." Evening Standard (London) (June 9, 2003): 2.

Ouzanian, Richard. "Beyond Hairspray's Joyous Hold." Toronto Star (March 14, 2004): D3.

Posner, Michael. "A Match Made in Musical Heaven." Globe and Mail (Toronto) (March 17, 2004): R3.

"The Musical Mind of Marc Shaiman."


    Citation Information
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Shaiman, Marc , and Scott Wittman  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated December 8, 2008  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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