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Wednesday, August 22, 2007


So I avoided it when it hit Broadway and ignored it when the touring version came to town. Apparently I had some kind of biased aversion to Hairspray (the musical). I could go on about why I wasn't interested in the musical but that's really not so important right now. I will say that I not-so-recently saw Hairspray (the film) (nearly a month ago to be exact) and it was really good! Yes, so good that it even surprised me. It has been a long time since I've seen a film that made me glad that I spent $10.75 and two hours in a smelly movie theatre. In regard to movie musicals, sure, I was excited to see Rent and Phantom on the big screen, but I was biased. I went into the theatre loving those films even before seeing anything (and quite frankly they weren't so good). With Hairspray (the film) there was actually a lot going for it.

The best thing about Hairspray (the film) hands down was breakout (read about her "discovery" story here) star Nikki Blonsky. As an actress, she had such energy and presence about her that there was no way not to love her as Tracy Turnblad. I think her character was well written, but Blonsky truly gave you a reason to love Tracy. Sure the character of Tracy was written as a very open minded and determined teen, but it was Blonsky who perfectly embodied that with her vibrant charm. Everything about her was spot on and I even prefer her voice to that of Marisa Jaret Winokur (Tony winner as Broadway's Tracy).

Here's where the critical, snobby aspect of my musical theatre taste comes in. Hairspray's score is definitely a fun one. Its upbeat, feel-good, happy music...but that's it. I don't think there's anything particularly complex about the music (not that there has to be). The melodies are memorable and the best way I can describe or compare it to is that of a sitcom. It is simple with just a hint of substance and doesn't make you think too much. There are issues of course that you know are important but nothing that you don't already know about and the "symbolism" is all too obvious. You pretty much get all you can get form it after one or two viewings. With that said, its still a great film with great heart and on the whole I really loved it.

Of course everyone likes to discuss the casting choice of John Travolta as Edna Turnblad. The first word that comes to mind is creepy. I suppose its no big surprise that John Travolta comes across as a really creepy middle aged woman. It would be one thing if he was good, but he just wasn't. On his Oprah appearance, Travolta made a point to reiterate the fact that he loves Maryland. He did two films in a row there, the people are great, blah, blah, blah which is why he believed so deeply in "Edna" having an authentic Baltimore accent. That would have been great had the rest of the cast had the same accent and had Travolta been able to be consistent with it.

While the rest of the cast was fine, the only other stand out performance was Christopher Walken. Can we say adorable?! Ahem, let me rephrase that, his portrayal of his character was adorable. As Wilbur Turnblad, he was such a warm, sweet, encouraging and loving father and husband. LOVED him.

Anyhow, Hairspray (the film) was just great. A happy, upbeat, wonderful story that puts a smile on my face just thinking about it. Great direction, cinematography, acting, choreography and LOVED the cameos. Go see it!


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