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Marissa Jaret Winokur Returns to Broadway in Hairspray, Brings Son Zev

12/16/2008 at 09:00 AM ET
Courtesy Marissa Jaret Winokur for use on CBB

Six years after originating the role of Tracy Turnblad in the musical Hairspray — for which she won a Tony — and later ballroom dancing her way into our lives in season six of Dancing With the Stars, Marissa Jaret Winokur returned to Broadway on December 9th for the last 38 performances of her star-making show. What’s different this time is that she’s a mom, so she brought her son Zev Isaac Miller, almost 5 months old, to New York with her! By day, Marissa blends in with the tourists checking out the sights; by night, she dons her wig and enters the segregated world of 1962 Baltimore.

Click More to read Danielle’s exclusive interview with Marissa, check out our exclusive photos and a video of Zev helping her rehearse!

Danielle: You opened Hairspray on Broadway in 2002, performed in LA, came back in 2005, and now you’re back on Broadway for the first time in three years. What’s different about doing the show now that you’re a mom? How is your energy level?

Marissa: I actually have more energy now. The show used to seem like so much work, but now that I’m a mother, I know what tired really is and how much you can do on little sleep.

Courtesy Marissa Jaret Winokur for use on CBB

How many shows has Zev attended? Does he spend any time with you during intermission? Perhaps during matinees?

Zev has been to three out my first eight shows. My favorite thing is to come up to my dressing room at intermission and have Zev sitting on my couch waiting for me. Matinees are much easier because it’s still light out when the show is over. I love that once I open my mouth he knows it’s me, even in the Tracy costume!

How long did you have to get back up to speed?

I had two weeks to throw my stuff in suitcases and four days of rehearsal in New York. I was more worried about moving Zev to New York City in the winter than relearning the show. I think that’s the secret. It made it easier to rehearse the show because I wasn’t worrying about myself. That’s a first…

We saw Zev helping you warm up in the video — tell us more about that. I heard he sings along.

He really tries to make the sounds he hears — it’s crazy! He also stares at the piano and wants to touch the keys! I’m so grateful to be back in Hairspray because I really hadn’t sung for three years, and am not sure I would have been singing so much with him. But now we have such a special bond that I will continue to sing every day. Zev loves the music — he kicks his legs with joy whenever he starts to hear the music. I love it so much!

Does he have a favorite song?

It was “I Can Hear the Bells”… but now in the show he likes watching “Welcome to the 60s.” I think the colors and the lights excite him!

Courtesy Marissa Jaret Winokur for use on CBB

What things are you looking forward to doing with Zev in NYC?

I took Zev to the [Christmas] tree [in Rockefeller Center], but I can’t wait to go to Central Park! The very first thing I did was take him to Times Square and take a photo at the Hairspray billboard before they take it down!

What will your Christmas and Hanukkah be like in NYC? Is there a performance?

Yes, there is a show! My whole family is coming here for the week to celebrate with Zev. I think I may just wrap up his toys and pretend they are new… he’s only four months old, he will never know!

How did you make the transition to NYC smoother for Zev?

I actually brought all his toys and blankets and play mat! I wanted him to recognize the smells. I even brought his big stuffed animals. I only brought a few changes of clothes for myself and four huge suitcases for him!

What new things is Zev doing? What’s his personality like? Is he more like you or [husband] Judah [Miller] in certain ways?

He is very determined to crawl. He rolls over and then get very frustrated! He makes lots of noise and speaks a lot. He really likes getting his photo taken! And it breaks my heart because he now reaches to be picked up. I love that! He is such a sweet boy!

I say he has Judah’s soul and my WILL — he gets very strong willed and wants what he wants but does it with a sweet loving smile! I see Judah in him more and more. It actually makes me love my husband in a way I never have! He’s a great dad!

– Danielle

If you’ve never seen the show, now’s your last chance, as the curtains are closing for good on January 4th. Harvey Fierstein is also back, reprising his role as Tracy’s mother, Edna Turnblad. The rest of the cast is pretty fabulous too, with R&B singer Tevin Campbell as Seaweed J. Stubbs, and Charlotte Crossley — who has backed Bette Midler — as his mom Motormouth Maybelle. (I was also impressed by the performances of Kate Loprest as Amber Von Tussle, Niki Singleton as Penny Pingleton and Susan Mosher as her mother, the gym teacher and the jail matron.)

Courtesy Marissa Jaret Winokur for use on CBB.

In this episode of The Ryan O’Connor Show, watch as baby Zev helped his momrehearse, standing in as Hairspray heartthrob Link Larkin.

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Showing 25 comments

Kim on

He looks just like his Daddy!
I love her bubbly personality, she deserves this sweet baby

Brianne on

A celebrity who realizes that she doesn’t have to spend thousands on her kid’s first christmas – they won’t even realize!

I saw her in her original run in Hairspray. I absolutely adore her and am so happy she was still able to get her beautiful son after her bout with cancer. She is fantastic and one of my favorite celebrities to read about – she truly deserves every wonderful thing that comes to her! Zev is adorable and she is such a cute mom!

phoebe on

Ha ha. In that last picture, Zev looks like he’s thinking ‘What on Earth does my mum look like?!’. Cute baby, you guys should come over to see Hairspray in London as well, it’s great!

Ashley on

I’ve been a fan of Marissa’s for a while now. I never really heard of her until I heard Lucy Lawless talk about her a lot. Lucy Lawless, who played Xena, was in Grease with her, and they’re still very close friends to this day, and I enjoyed watching Marissa every moment on Dancing with the Stars. Lucy was very supportive of her on the show, just as Marissa was very supportive of Lucy on Celebrity Duets. Lucy and Marissa both have similar personalities, but Marissa’s just so bubbly that it’s contagious! You can’t not smile when she’s smiling!

Her little boy is absolutely adorable, and I think he looks like his daddy, but I see a lot of Marissa in him too. :)

Lily on

Little Zev is adorable! He definitely loves his music.

Also, that Hairspray bib is too cute.

Rebecca Rubenstein on

that was so cool. i wonder what was going through zev’s mind…

Jae on

Zev is adorable! This must be the best Christmas for her ever! I’m happy for her & her husband.

mary on

Danielle,
Thanks for sharing that with us. She has so much talant. Where does she normally live?

Harley on

Aw! Now that’s beautiful :) I’ve had the utmost adoration for her since her bout with cervical cancer and was thrilled when I found out they were having a baby via surrogate.

I thought she and her husband were Jewish? I’m assuming they are but the mention of Christmas/Hannukah kind of makes me rethink that lol.

Jen on

Look at those big brown eyes!!! I wonder what was going through that little head when he was seeing Mommy in that wig.
I’m so happy for her–no matter one’s personal feelings on assisted reproductive technologies, this family is absolutely one that deserved the help.

Brandi on

Zev is adorable, he looks so much like dad.

Amy on

How timely – I’m going to see her tonight! I saw her a few times as Tracy back in the day, so it’ll be great to see her again. So happy for her with her new son!

Kat on

She is amazing… I’ve loved her as long as I can remember her… and she is the only one who really does the role of Tracey as much justice as Rikki Lake did in the original movie.

I wish she had been able to do it in the movie, but I get why they wanted a teenager and I do think Nikki Blonsky did well… it’s just she doesn’t have the broadway voice like Marissa.

Amanda on

Zev is such a little heartbreaker! To cute!! And I LOVE Marissa – she is such an amazing talent and obviously a fantastic mommy – seeing her with her little boy is an inspiration to me as I am struggling with fertility issues. I think her optomistic attitude is awesome and to see how much her husband loves her and how great of a family unit they are – it’s honestly a thrill to see. Enjoy that beautiful baby boy – you deserve him!

Kat on

Okay… now that I’ve watched the video… I love how she just brings him along and involves him… not only bonding for mom and baby, but it’s great exposure to music for him.

And she did so great making sure that she wasn’t hurting his ears with the loudness of the part of the one song and with the last song.

Just love her more now that I see her interacting with her son.

Ms.B on

Awwww those pictures are too cute!!! He’s such a cute baby and I can tell she’s a good mom as well.

FC on

Looks like he was preparing himself for his closeup in that shot of them in front of the mirror. He has that look like, “Do I look okay, Mom?” He’s adorable, and I can’t get over how big he’s gotten already.

Kelly on

Sweet & that video was HILAIROUS he was so cute! And her “Dont touch his soft spot!” *SLAP*

lilianic on

She seems to be having such a lovely time with Zev! It’s so great to see. I have an unexpected week off of work, and may catch a Hairspray matinee next week!

Benigna Marko on

I am not sure who he looks like, but he certainly is a cutie. Marissa you go girl.
Benigna Marko

D on

Awwwww!!! He’s SO cute! Marissa is so sweet, im so glad she has a baby!He’s just so adorable!!!!!!

Amy on

I just wanted to add that I went to the closing show of Hairspray tonight and Marissa brought Zev onstage at the end. He was dressed like a baby Link in a white suit with pink bow tie. My goodness, he’s even cuter in person! :-)

bendygirl on

Aww, I saw the 1/4 8pm show, too, must have left too early or been too high up to see Marissa bring out Zev. :-) How sweet, and what a GREAT show that was!

bendygirl on

Oops, I went to the 1/3 show at 8pm, not the 1/4 final matinee. No wonder I missed that sweet moment. :-)

Karen on

There is another episode of the Ryan O’Connor show where they show Zev in the dressing room listening to his mom over the speaker. And one other of the closing show where you also see him. Check it out! Both are super cute. I’m so bummed Hairspray closed. *SOB*

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