Sunday, August 12, 2007

Review: Hairspray

Now that I'm back from vacation, I'm trying to get caught up on my movie-going. So, today, I caught the new musical, "Hairspray," and what a treat! It's based on the 1988 cult film classic by John Walter - but when I think about it, I don't remember having seen the original (which starred Ricki Lake and Divine).

The story: in 1963 Baltimore, teenager Tracy Turnblad loves the "Corny Collins Show" - a local version of American Bandstand. She dreams of dancing on the show and when an opening occurs, she cuts school to audition. However, Tracy is plus sized and is quickly sent away by the nasty producer Mrs. Von Tussle (a scenery chewing Michelle Pfeiffer). However, Corny sees Tracy dance - her moves influenced by the Black students she's met in detention - and signs her. Dramatic tension results when Tracy tries to get the channel to reinstate their monthly "Negro Day" - or to integrate the program.

The music is infectious - I wasn't familiar with any of the tunes, but they're quite catchy. The casting is faultless - each cast member is perfect for their part and perfect in their part. Unknown Nikki Blonsky is quite a find - a great voice, infectuous charm and sparkling in her part. That young Zac Efron (from "High School Musical") is a handsome young man who easily carries the romantic lead. The young stars are good - James Marsden, Brittany Snow and Elijah Kelly are particularly notable. And it's great fun to see John Travolta (as Edna), summer Block Island resident Christopher Walken, Allison Janney, and Queen Latifah shine in their roles.

A fun romp for the summer - great music, great cast, and good story.



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