tek's rating:

Hairspray - Live!, on NBC
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Caution: spoilers!

A live performance (on December 7, 2016) of a musical play based on the 2002 stage musical "Hairspray," which itself was based on the 1988 film of the same name. (The stage musical was later made into the 2007 musical film Hairspray.) My rating of this production is slightly higher than my rating of the 2007 movie, though I don't remember the movie well enough to be sure which version I actually thought was better. I'd say for the most part, chances are I liked the movie better than the TV version, but the feelings I got from the TV version were probably stronger just because of the time in which it aired. It has a strong story about racial integration, on top of the central premise of body positivity, both of which are particularly important, considering recent events in the real world. (I'm writing this review the day after it aired, but last night while watching it, I commented on facebook how much we needed this story after this year's election. And just before starting the review, I read A.V. Club's review, which mentioned the same thing.) Speaking of A.V. Club, I agreed with a lot of what the reviewer said, but not all of it. Like, many of the technical aspects that were criticized, I didn't notice at all (aside from hearing "30 seconds"). Nor did I notice the absence of an audience, as the reviewer did. (Quite the opposite, actually.) But certainly the thing about Tracy's desire to be the first female president is true. (I'm still with her; that is, Hillary Clinton.) And Inez's line about Penny's mom being more likely to kill Seaweed than Penny was quite powerful, even if none of the characters paid it any mind. And I did think Link was definitely the "weak link." Aside from all that, I can say I thought the songs were all pretty good, even if I didn't remember a single one of them from the movie. (It makes me wonder if, the next time I watch the movie, I'll remember them from the show.)

And... I'm not sure what else to say, except to mention such cast members as were familiar to me before this. (I'm feeling too lazy to summarize the plot here, so you could just read my review of the 2007 movie for that. It's mostly the same as the TV version, though I probably had a stronger sense of cultural appropriation when watching this version. But again, that's probably just because of the time in which I watched it.) Anyway, Velma was played here by Kristin Chenoweth, Edna by Harvey Fierstein (who previously played the role on Broadway), Wilbur by Martin Short, Penny by Ariana Grande, Motormouth by Jennifer Hudson, Penny's mom by Andrea Martin, Mr. Pinky by Sean Hayes, the gym teacher by Rosie O'Donnell. (Amber was played by Dove Cameron, though I didn't become familiar with her until about a year after this aired.) I think that's everyone I knew, though the other cast members were certainly familiar to other viewers. Oh, and Darren Criss (from Glee) did a hosting gig during commercial breaks. There were also people hosting Hairspray events in a few different cities. (Speaking of commercial breaks, there were various live, 1960s-themed commercials that tied in with the musical's setting, though the one that really stood out for me was the one for Reddi-Wip, performed by a 1960s-style milkman.) Oh, and I should also say that Hudson and Grande did a duet after the TV movie, which I don't think was technically part of the story proper. (Apparently it was performed during the end credits of the 2007 movie, so I guess it makes sense the way it was done here.)

Untitled Document NBC Live Musicals
The Sound of Music * Peter Pan * The Wiz * Hairspray * Jesus Christ Superstar


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