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Shaiman, Marc (b. 1959), and Scott Wittman (b. 1955)  
 
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Composer Marc Shaiman and lyricist and director Scott Wittman, partners in life and collaborators in theater, film, and television projects, have a long list of credits in the entertainment industry. Their work on the musical version of John Waters' Hairspray earned Tony and Grammy awards in 2003.

Both Shaiman and Wittman grew up in the vicinity of New York City, the former in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, and the latter in Nyack, New York. Both were fascinated with musical theater from an early age and dreamed of careers on Broadway.

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Shaiman played piano with local community theater groups from the time that he was twelve, and Wittman apprenticed in summer stock in his hometown. Such was their love for the stage that they both cut high school classes to travel into New York for matinees.

Wittman attended Emerson College in Boston but left after two years to pursue a career as a writer and director in musical theater in New York. In the city's East Village he crossed paths with Shaiman, who had quit high school at sixteen to join the New York musical scene. Wittman was directing a show at a club in Greenwich Village when Shaiman came in and started playing the piano. Wittman promptly hired him. They subsequently fell in love and have been a couple since 1979.

The two soon began collaborating professionally, writing songs that Shaiman describes as "full of anarchy and joy." In the 1980s they produced quirky musicals at off-Broadway venues such as Club 57, including Livin' Dolls, a story about the Barbie and Ken figures, which was, in the words of Jesse Green of the New York Times, "a cult success downtown but ran afoul of [toy company] Mattel on the eve of its uptown transfer."

Both Shaiman and Wittman explored other professional avenues. Shaiman, a longtime fan of Bette Midler, parlayed the fortuitous circumstance of Wittman's being the neighbor of one of her back-up singers into becoming her arranger and producer for albums and concert appearances.

Shaiman also wrote for television shows including Saturday Night Live, on which he began working in 1975. Through that job he met Billy Crystal, with whom he worked frequently over the years in film as well as television. Since 1997 Shaiman and Wittman have contributed and directed music for the Academy Awards presentation show, often hosted by Crystal.

At the same time Wittman, who humorously calls himself "a great diva wrangler," was directing concerts. In addition to working with Midler, he has had a long association with Patti LuPone and has worked with Christine Ebersole, Raquel Welch, Dame Edna Everage (Barry Humphries), and Lypsinka among many others. He also directed Bruce Vilanch's one-man show Almost Famous in 2000.

In the late 1980s Shaiman and Wittman, who now have homes in both New York and Los Angeles, went to California so that Shaiman could begin writing for films. He has over fifty credits as a music writer, arranger, and producer.

The first film on which he worked was Rob Reiner's Misery, released in 1990. Among others to which he contributed are When Harry Met Sally (1989, also directed by Reiner), Nora Ephron's Sleepless in Seattle (1993), and Hugh Wilson's The First Wives Club (1996). In addition to his other work, Shaiman has appeared in around a dozen films, often as a piano player.

One of Shaiman's best-known projects is the score for Trey Parker's South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999), particularly the hilarious march "Blame Canada" for which he received one of his five Academy Award nominations.

Shaiman and Wittman's greatest triumph thus far is Hairspray, an adaptation of the 1988 John Waters movie for the musical stage. Shaiman and Wittman wrote the music, and Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan the book for the play.

Shaiman and Wittman, both avid Waters fans, were excited to have the chance to work on Hairspray, the story of a chubby Baltimore high schooler who goes from being an outsider and a nobody to a heroine when her love of pop music sets her on a course that leads to the desegregation of a television dance show in 1962.

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