In 1988, filmmaker John Waters introduced audiences to a new film and a new heroine. Hairspray is the story of far from modelesque 1960’s teenager Tracy Turnblad (Ricki Lake) whose dream is to dance on the local teenage dance show. What starts out as one girl’s innocuous dream represents a larger goal of diversity, respect for others who are different and self-love.
From there, the movie became a hit Broadway musical with Marissa Jaret Winokur, and a movie musical starring Nikky Blonsky. Last night, Hairspray evolved again to become Hairspray Live on NBC. Stepping into Tracy’s buffont hair was newcomer Maddie Baillio.
I have mixed feelings on this production. What keeps this piece relevant and will continue to keep this piece relevant are the issues that lie just below the surface of the narrative. The problem was that it felt like a high production or a community theater production with a much larger budget and a cast of actors that many of us know and love. While the casting was perfect, especially with Harvey Fierstein once again stepping into the shoes of Edna Turnblad after doing it on Broadway, something was just off for me. There was something missing that I get from live theater that I did not get from this production.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.