Screen Actors Guild Singers Honor “Hairspray” Composer Marc Shaiman

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Los Angeles Chronicle
Screen Actors Guild Singers Honor “Hairspray” Composer Marc Shaiman
Entertainment Desk
May 06, 2009

Musical Gala United Singers and the Composing Community.

Los Angeles – The Screen Actors Guild Hollywood Singers Committee paid tribute to award-winning “Hairspray” composer and lyricist Marc Shaiman on Monday night at the Writers Guild Theater. SAG´s “Meet the Composer II” event celebrated the achievements of Oscar-nominated, and Emmy and Tony Award-winning Shaiman, as well as the contributions of the SAG singers´ community to the art of film and television.

Shaiman has a lengthy resume of television, film and stage credits. Early in his career he worked as a vocal arranger for Bette Midler and the Harlettes, and went on to be nominated for five Academy Awards for his work on “Sleepless in Seattle” (1993), “The American President” (1995), “The First Wives Club” (1996), “Patch Adams” (1998), and “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut” (1999). A Tony-winner for “Hairspray,” Shaiman and his partner Scott Wittman are known for their socially-conscious, and often satirical, material such as their recent Internet sensation “Prop. 8: The Musical.”

“We honor Marc because of his loyalty to Los Angeles singers and for always using SAG performers as much as possible, and that´s very important for all of us,” said Linda Harmon, SAG Singers National Committee co-chair, who worked with Shaiman on the films “The Addams Family,” “City Slickers” and “Down with Love.” “And we honor him because we know that he´s done and will continue to do great work for us to be a part of.”

“Marc is a genius and I think it´s good thing to honor geniuses in their lifetime,” said writer/performer Bruce Vilanch, who once performed the role of Edna Turnblad on stage in “Hairspray.” “We´ve worked together since he was a teenager working with Bette Midler, and thanks to Marc I wound up on Broadway which was a dream I´d always had. He´s such a multi-faceted talent, he writes movie scores, he writes songs, he can get away with the filthiest stuff like ´South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.´ He´s got a great combination of being hip and having heart, which very few people have.”

“I know this is true for the SAG singing community as well as it is for me, that there is no more proof of God than the sound that comes out of the human body,” Shaiman said. “There is nothing I love more than singers and harmonies, and I am humbled that SAG chose to honor me, especially when one considers some of the nasty, profane and downright obscene phrases I have coerced SAG singers to sing over the years,” Shaiman jokingly added, referring to the lyrics from “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.”

Many SAG members and performers who have collaborated with Shaiman came together to honor him with memories and performances of his most notable songs. Among them was Marissa Jaret Winokur, a Tony Award-winner for her performance as Tracy Turnblad in the Broadway production of “Hairspray.” “Marc is amazing and he always stands up for the Screen Actors Guild and always makes sure to take care of the talent that he works with,” said Winokur. “There´s not anyone he forgets. He´ll make sure there are 25 singers, not three singers, singing 25 parts.”