Derek Hough in “Hairspray Live!” – Online Articles & Interviews

Besides the video interviews of Derek and the cast, we also had many online interviews and articles. Below we gathered Derek’s interviews and other interviews & features that include Derek. Be sure to click the links for the full articles as they have some great insight info into the show.

For everything around “Hairspray Live!” (pictures, promos, behind the scenes and more videos) you can check our main page.

Derek’s Interviews

What it’s like living in the world of [choreographer] Jerry Mitchell?
It’s great. For me, I’ve been just watching and learning. I think Jerry’s so great. He’s so fun to work with, so positive and he’s very in tune with the storytelling of it. He’s not just about the movements, the dancing. He’s very much in there with “hey make sure you do this because it tells the story in this way.”

But I’ve also been watching, too, because it’s on my bucket list to choreograph a Broadway show eventually, so I’ve been observing and seeing how he does it. He’s a veteran. He’s very accomplished, so it’s been great.

“I actually asked Julianne before Grease, ‘Aren’t you guys nervous?” And she said, ‘No, we’re ready for this! We want to show people this, we’re ready.’ So I hope we feel that way, too. We’re all still a little nervous but hopefully we’ll be ready.”
It’s totally normal to be nervous before such a massive live production like Hairspray. Derek and the rest of the cast have been rehearsing non-stop, and he knows that will only help them on Dec. 7. “Repetition is the mother of all skill, and we’re rehearsing so much that hopefully it’ll be automatic. We’re just in it, we’re just having fun with it,” he continued.

“If anything, the imperfections are what makes it special” Derek said. So, what is most likely to get goofed up when the camera turns on tonight on 8/7c? Plenty of things, Hough told us – but in his experience, live TV and play screw-ups are never really the parts you worry about pre-curtain, however. […] In this case, there’s one logistical issue that could definitely come back to haunt producers: 40% of “Hairspray Live” takes place outside, on the streets of Baltimore.
“That’s crazy – we’re shooting a full-length feature film basically” Hough told us. “The geography of this show is massive”.

[…] But how does he label himself? “As a performer,” he says, giving the question some thought. “You know, you fill out forms that say, ‘What’s your occupation?’ I always just put ‘performer.’ If I’m singing or if I’m acting or if I’m dancing—choreography is different but, in a way, you’re still performing.”

When it comes to dance, Hough claims to be his toughest critic. (“There’s rarely been a time when I’ve been like, ‘Dude, I killed that.’ ”) So let others tell you how great he is: “He’s probably the best dancer of a generation in this country,” states Alex Rudzinski, live television director at “Hairspray Live!” who has worked with Hough on “DWTS” since 2007. “But beyond that, he has this ability to take a scene and see the whole picture—to create a story and to work with camera and light and the art department to create something that is so much more than the individual elements. He embraces so many other mediums to help surround the dance and help showcase it in the best and most inventive way.”

Other interviews & features

Hough had been talking with executive producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan about several projects for years, but nothing worked out — until now.
“This is just one of those things that made perfect sense,” he said. “It’s a perfect role for me.”

Derek Hough, who plays Corny Collins, joined the cast after hearing positive reports about working on “Grease Live!” from his sister, Julianne, who played Sandy. A dancer since age 10, Hough had special panels called gussets sewn into his suits to allow for greater movement in the armpits and the crotch. He also asked for a “wet dance towel” to be kept on the side of the stage to dampen the soles of his shoes. “I step on that towel before I go on stage. It gives me greater traction,” he says.
Educating the cast, most of which was born well after the racially charged 1960s, became the job of co-director Kenny Leon, who directed a production of “A Raisin in the Sun” for ABC in 2008.
“As a company, we watched a video about that time where white dancers were doing the Twist and the Watusi and the Shoefly,” Hough says. “And they were saying they stole them from the black community, danced them on TV and got the credit for it,” Hough says..
[…]“The first day of table read, we’re stumbling through our lines,” Hough says, “but Maddie was in full performance mode from day one.”

When it comes to dance experts, Dancing With the Stars fans are most looking forward to Hough’s appearance as host Corny Collins. He will have four major segments with The Corny Collins Show, which will also incorporate a live studio audience for the teen-dance show within Hairspray Live.
“Derek is amazing. He comes in full out, he learns it quicker than anybody else and then he gives it right back to you,” raves Mitchell. “He’s never once in all of our rehearsals said, ‘Oh, I don’t like that step, can I try this instead?’ He’s been unbelievable. He’s a super talent and a super sweet man. I am really excited to have the opportunity to work with that man.”
The show is sticking close to the Broadway version, but they added the song “Ladies Choice” from the 2007 movie remake because of Hough’s talents.
“Because of Derek Hough, Jerry wanted to use a song that was in the movie called “Ladies Choice” because it’s a dance number and it would allow Derek to really dance,” explains Fierstein.
The one thing Mitchell is being cautious about when it comes to the dance numbers is protecting the young dancers’ bodies.

The most involved, of course, was Harvey Fierstein, who made the role of Edna Turnblad famous on Broadway, who Vogt said she “always sent sketches to first,” as well as Dancing With the Stars’ Derek Hough, who “knows absolutely everything about dance clothes,” and even has his own tailor he’s worked with for years.
And Vogt even put Hough, who plays dance show host Corny Collins, to work in order to test the durability of the male dancers’ pants, asking to “try and rip his suits,” hoping to avoid any live wardrobe malfunctions. “We don’t want to be embarrassed,” she said with a laugh. 

  • You can also click the gallery here to read and learn everything about Hairspray Live’s colorful costumes. Below the part about Corny Collins:

“[Derek]’s just a doll and he knows absolutely everything about dance clothes. […] I learned a lot from him about what works for a dancer. He has all these tricks.” 
For his role as Corny Collins, the cocky dance show host, “A lot of his clothes are metallic stretch,” and they “used his tailor” that he’s worked with for years that specifically makes dance clothes, Vogt revealed. “His suits are really like an Olympic gymnast outfit, so they’re really made very special to him and he’s very specific.”

[McLane] is a Broadway fixture — a Tony Award-winner who crafted the scenery for such recent shows as “Beautiful,” ”China Doll” and a lot of sturdy doors for “Noises Off” — who found his skills translated to live TV. In addition to the Oscars, he’s designed the sets for “The Wiz Live!,” ”Peter Pan Live!” and “The Sound of Music Live!”

“It’s very different in some ways, but in other ways, it’s really not,” he said during a tour of his midtown Manhattan studio. “We’re still telling stories and all of these stories happen to be based on Broadway shows.” […]

[…] For “Hairspray Live!” McLane is transforming nondescript fake store fronts in Universal’s backlot in Hollywood into 1960s-era Baltimore. Adding to the pressure is that 40 percent of the show will be filmed outside. “It’s definitely risky. But it’s also so much more, I think, exciting,” he said.”