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Hairspray the Movie and Hairspray On Broadway

Order the movie now on DVD Hairspray: Special Edition (Musical)

Check out the soundtrack: Hairspray (Soundtrack to the Motion Picture)

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Hairspray Music - from the movie and show

Hairspray LogoHairspray and Thouroughly Modern Millie Combination Karaoke CDHairspray CD [new browser window] Hairspray Cast album at Amazon.com with clips. Karaoke: Hairspray/Thoroughly Modern Millie - Karaoke Combination

Hairspray Tickets for New York City and California cities (YourTicketChoices.com)

Thinking About Hairspray and Wicked on Broadway

by Jim Miller, July 2004

It has been two years now since Hairspray roared into town in August of 2002. After a successful and acclaimed tryout in Seattle, word of mouth in New York was immediately glowing, and the musical opened to rave reviews and has been a huge hit ever since. I first saw the show a couple weeks after its official opening and had wondered whether it would live up to its hype THE PRODUCERS, for instance, while a lot of fun, never quite (for me, at least) lived up to all its hype. I shouldn't have worried about HAIRSPRAY, though. Both at the time and in several subsequent viewings, I've found it to be a totally exhilarating delight and probably the best musical comedy (as opposed to musical play) since ANNIE.

The musical, of course, is based on a John Waters movie and takes place in blue-collar Baltimore in the early '60s. It revolves around the overweight high-schooler, Tracy Turnblad, and tells the story of how she eventually wins the heart of the local high school heartthrob as well as her attempts to inegrate the local after school dance show on television - "The Corny Collins Show." That description may not sound all that exciting, but, trust me, it sure works onstage. Hairspray is loaded with energy, it's great fun, and it features a first rate, Tony award winning score by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman. For me, the show's highpoints come with four big showstopping numbers, starting with the upbeat "Welcome to the Sixties" in Act One, which really helps accelerate the show into high gear. Early in Act Two, there is the wonderful "Timeless to Me," a pure Broadway piece of musical comedy heaven featuring Tracy's parents. Her mother, Edna, was of course played by the sensational Harvey Fierstein, whose warmth and tremendous comic timing as Edna resulted in a highly deserving Tony award. Later in Act Two, there's the showstopping gospel number "I Know Where I've Been." And, the musical sends its audience home on a real high with the big finale, "You Can't Stop the Beat." While these four numbers stand out, just about every song is a good one and provides for a high moment.

I've now seen the show five times, and it has remained equally strong in each viewing. The cast has changed, but the show has always been a winner. I haven't seen Fierstein's successor, Michael McKean. It's tough to match Harvey's presence, but, from what I've read, McKean does a more than credible job.

When I was asked recently about possible comparisons between Hairspray and this year's big hit, WICKED, I had to give it some thought. I've seen WICKED four times now and never really thought about any similarities with HAIRSPRAY. And, on the surface, the two musicals strike me as quite different. But, when I thought more about it, several things did come to mind. First, both shows are highlighted by multiple showstoppers. They're stylistically different - Hairspray doesn't really have the type of pop ballads that Idina Menzel does so brilliantly in WICKED - but very few shows can match the quantity of showstoppers that these shows offer. Second, both tell the story of an outcast - the overweight Tracy and the "green" Elpheba - who is different from the popular kids and has to try to overcome societal prejudices and stereotypes. And, finally, both shows, while featuring a great deal of humor, have a strong emotional core and real heart that reaches its peak in a powerful and moving number late in the show. In HAIRSPRAY, it comes during the stirring civil rights song "I Know Where I've Been." In WICKED, the big emotional payoff is "For Good." To me, the depth, the weight, and the emotion those numbers provide are what elevate both Hairspray and WICKED and make them so satisfying as musicals.

And, I could add one more thing: both shows elicit some of the most ecstatic audience responses that I've seen in a long time at a Broadway musical. Audiences are not shy about displaying their enthusiasm for Hairspray and WICKED and, at the performances I've seen, have been on their feet almost the instant the final curtain comes down. There are, of course, plenty of differences between Hairspray and WICKED. But, at their core, both shows provide the kind of thrills and emotion that result in highly charged and enormously satisfying theatrical evenings. I only wish more musicals did it as well as these two do.

Article on Hairspray's influence on Wicked - "What is this Feeling"

Hairspray and Thoroughly Modern Millie Combination Karaoke CDHairspray/Thoroughly Modern Millie - Karaoke Combination disk from Pocket Songs.