Hairspray (ExpDl Top 100)

“For clarification, as if there was any doubt, I am of course referring to the 2007 musical version.

Hmm, I guess we’ll start with the typical, I remember when I first saw this. It was a social outing with my theatre group, of course. Maybe a dozen of us piled into the theater to watch it together. Actually, the original plan had been to see it at a different theater, but tix were sold out, so we treked over to the Fenway. As we passed Fenway park, we encountered a bunch of scalpers, as per usual. As they were saying “”tickets, tickets?”” to anyone walking by, one of our boys responded enthusiastically and sarcastically with “”tickets for Hairspray?!”” and really confused the scalper.

The other thing I remember from that outing was that I was sitting with the choroegrapher for our current show. During rehearsals, he’d been obsessing over one bit where we couldnt get into a proper clump “”formation”” according to him. During “”Cant Stop The Beat””, the cast hit the formation he wanted, and he jumped outta his seat screaming about why we couldnt do that.

Anyhoo, I saw the movie and fell in love with it, watching it over and over. Then later made it down to NYC to watch the show on Broadway just before it closed. This was actually the first day trip I’d ever taken, which was a kinda proof of concept trip that ultimately led to my current trend of monthly trips. But yeah, that trip was an Xmas present for a friend, so we could see it with Harvey Feirstein (!) as Edna.

Knowing both, I feel like this film is a fantastic adaptation. It’s really difficult to make a good adaptation that doesnt feel trapped in a static location or forced into an awkward film flow. But with Hairspray, the recognized which songs weren’t going to work, but found playful ways to incorporate them: “”Mama I’m a Big Girl Now”” was cut but they created a recording for the soundtrack with all 3 Tracy’s (Ricki Lake from the original movie, Marissa Jaret Winokur original on Broadway, Nikki Blonsky from this movie), “”It Takes Two”” which was trimmed to a few seconds on a tv screen, “”Cooties”” which had an instrumental version. Beyond that, the film did another impossible feat, and it added original songs that weren’t only worthy of the originals, but in some cases surpassed them. The thing that made me saddest about seeing the stage version was that I knew Ladies Choice wasn’t gonna be in it. That’s prolly my fave Hairspray song (or at least tied with “”Run and Tell That””). “”New Girl in Town”” and “”Big, Blonde, and Beautiful (Reprise)”” are also fantastic. Other things got reworked (“”Without You””) or moved around, but it all turned out great. Actually, with few exceptions, I typically prefer to listen to the movie soundtrack over the B’way one.

The casting for the film is just inspired. Running down the list as ordered in IMDB
-John Travolta. Okay, the one weak link in the cast. True, in part it’s just because nobody could ever be Harvey Fierstein. But I feel like the biggest problem with Travolta’s performance is that he tried to play Edna too seriously as a woman. Half the fun with Harvey is that he was obviously crosscast, and so he played up those jokes. Still, Travolta is a legend.
-Michelle Pfeiffer. Ah yes, something to redeem her for Grease 2, although I dont think it’s as horrible as most people seem to think. Then again, I watched it when I was 8.
-Christopher Walken. Love. No one could have played Wilbur Turnblad better. I only wish I could get a recording of “”Youre Timeless To Me”” that has Walken as Wilbur and Fierstein as Edna.
-Amanda Bynes. I dont typically like her, but she’s perfect as Penny, who’s prolly my favorite character. Or she’s at least the character I’d wanna play. Maybe it’s just that her mother reminds me of mine.
-James Marsden. Corny Collins could so easily fall into the background, but Marsden just brings so much charisma to the role. I think outta all of them, he’s the one I most admire for his progressive attitude against integration, and it’s because of the way that Marsden plays that aspect so strongly.
-Queen Latifah. Motormouth Maybelle isnt exactly my favorite character, but Latifah owns the screen everytime she’s on it. You can’t help but sit there with rapt attention.
-Zac Efron. Im not ashamed to admit, that I totally have a crush on Zac Efron. (Dont worry, no High School Musicals appear on my list). If I was a few years younger, my teenybopper walls woulda been covered with posters of this pretty boy, instead of my boy bands. But he’s just so charming and suave and gorgeous. I really do love him more as Link Larkin than Troy Bolton. Although, for “”It Takes Two”” I do prefer Matthew Morrison’s version. Yes, Glee’s Mr Schue was the original Link on Broadway. *swoon*

I want so badly to be in or direct this show. Sadly, my theatre group isnt, shall we say, racially diverse enough to make it happen. Unless we changed it to a Hispanic version. I guess that means I need to branch out, huh?”

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