Review – Hairspray the movie musical

Sunday 8 July 2007

Off-topic, kind of. But by a combination of divine mix-up and Badedas bath moment, Andrew found himself in Leicester Square on Thursday at the world premiere of Hairspray – the movie based on the Broadway musical based on the John Waters film.

It may not be theatre but it was in the West End and Andrew is intent on sharing his experience on the blog because (a) the London production opens at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 11th October and (b) no-one else will listen.

So, anyway, he found himself on the red (and orange and yellow and green and blue) carpet alongside the juve stars of the film – Zac Efron (Link Larkin), Amanda Bynes (Penny Pingleton), Nikki Blonsky (Tracy Turnblad) and Elijah Kelley (Seaweed) – who insisted on having their photograph taken with him (left, he’s just out of shot on this one unfortunately).

Disappointingly, the no-shows included Queen Latifah (Motormouth Maybelle), Christopher Walken (Wilbur Turnblad), Michelle Pfeiffe (Velma Von Tussle) and John Travolta (Edna Turnblad).

Unless you’re on a completely different planet to Andrew (insert your own gag here) there’s no point in giving you an outline of the classic fat Baltimore girl ends racial segregation on local TV story.

Indeed, this post is principally to reassure you that the style and wit of John Waters’ film has been retained. Although some characters have been conflated and some scenes removed, it’s a pretty faithful musical version in which no opportunity for joyfulness has been overlooked. Indeed, some of the musical numbers were rewarded with spontaneous applause. How often does that happen in a movie?

Hairspray 3

Michelle Pfeiffer pulls all the stops out as evil bitch Velma von Tussle (right) and the Whingers hope it leads to more roles of this type for her.

Newcomer Nikki Blonsky is an excellent Tracy, more-than-adequately filling the shoes of Rikki Lake who has a brief cameo (as does John Waters who appears as the flasher who lives next door).

Hairspray 2Phil was rather miffed to have missed it as the part of Prudy Pingleton (left with Amanda Bynes, far left) is taken by one of his favourite actresses (Allison Janney from West Wing).

The big question, of course, is how John Travolta fares.

Happily, he enters into the spirit of it, turning in a charming and understated performance as Tracy’s mother, the role originally played in the film by Divine and brilliantly revived for the Broadway version by Harvey Fierstein.

John Waters was originally iffy about the idea of a Broadway musical of Hairspray on the grounds that he doesn’t care for musicals, but what sold him on the idea to him was the fact that in the inevitable High School productions, the main roles would go to the fat girl and the drag queen.

This film is entirely true to his vision of celebrating the heroism of the outsider, and if you like the original film or the musical, you’ll probably love it. If you haven’t seen either – shame on you.
Hairspray 1

Hairspray opens in the UK on 20th July.

Further reading: Article in Variety on the musical changes made for the screen adaptation

4 Responses to “Review – Hairspray the movie musical”

  1. gina pizzo Says:

    um i have seen both the original movie and the broadway play and i must say that this was a huge disappointment…they cut out a few of the big numbers, like mama i’m a big girl now and a few others, which i believe lessoned the movie for me, and it really cut the role of some of the characters, i didn’t like the plot changes at all, i thought they sucked to be perfectly honest. I know i am being very harsh and that is very hard for me because i was so excited for this movie, and with a cast like that i am suprised for how bad it turned out. overall i am the most disappointed about john travolta because he did not play up the voice at all…the point is for him to sound like a drag queen, however it just sounded like a bad country accent…in the end i was very sad to the point where i almost cried….


  2. Cried, Gina? Lighten up. It’s just a movie.

  3. brittany Says:

    i love hairspary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Amy Says:

    I loved hairspray and i think it inspires people to be like to poeple play the actors in the film.


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