Hairspray Live Review

Antony Post, Staff Writer

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On December 7, NBC hosted its fourth Christmas live musical show where they adapted this time around the 2002 Best Musical winning show Hairspray. Being a fan of Broadway Musicals and this show being one of my favorites, I was looking forward to seeing this musical be reimagined in this very different time.

Following Tracy Turnblad, an overweight teenager in 1962 Baltimore, she dreams of starring on “The Corny Collins Show” and in the end, integrating the show from all white to mixed races. As she befriends people on both sides, with the help of them and her parents, she will change TV forever.

What I felt this adaption really did well that none of the other live tv musicals could do is tell an important, and to some level, comedic story, with great music, but still capture the original musical’s fun tone. I was immediately transported into 1960’s Baltimore and I never left, even during the commercials!

I have to mention the wonderful cast before I talk about anything else, because they are truly the stars of the show. Newcomer Maddy Ballieo gave a new depth to Tracy I had not seen before, which is great for her, since this is the third time this character has been adapted for an audience. Harvey Fierstein, not only reprising the role that won him a Tony Award in 2002 as Tracy’s mom, Edna, penned the teleplay for this event, and he performed amazing against Martin Short’s Wilbur Turnblad, who also brought something new to the character. Other standout performances were from Kristin Chenoweth, Ariana Grande, and of course, the powerhouse performer, Jennifer Hudson, who tore the stage down, or should I say set, during her moving number of “I Know Where I Have Been” and her fun number “Big, Blonde, and Beautiful”. Oh, and special cameos by Andrea Martin and Rosie O’Donnell were cherries on top of this humongous ice cream sundae.

What this show did extremely well was that I felt like I was watching a Broadway show. From the elaborate sets, to the direction, to the staging and choreography, this musical packed all the punches and it was definitely a knock out.

Now, if I have to penalize something, it seemed that it could have benefited from another week of rehearsal and the lighting design was not always on time, but besides from that, Hairspray Live! is not only the best TV live musical, but a great remake of the Hairspray classic that hopefully opened up a wider group of people to this great musical, with lessons we can still use today in our current setting. I give this TV special an A+ and I can not wait to listen to the soundtrack! Until next time, “You Can’t Stop the Beat”!

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