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Music Review

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Hairspray Live!
Original Soundtrack of the NBC Television Event


Music: Marc Shaiman
Lyrics: Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman
Performed by: Harvey Fierstein, Jennifer Hudson, Ariana Grande and Rosie O’Donnell
Label: Masterworks Broadway
RRP: £12.99
Release Date: 02 December 2016

Although John Waters is more notorious for films like Pink Flamingos (1972) and Polyester (1981), neither of which can be recommended as a date night film unless your partner is into insemination with a turkey baster or watching Divine eat real poodle pooh, by the late eighties his hand turned towards more mainstream fare.

Hairspray (1988), started as a Waters film which dealt with the idea of racial segregation and prejudice due to body size. Such was the critical success of the film it was remade in 2007. Likewise, there was a Broadway production of the film.

In 2002 the show was adapted for the stage with music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman. The book was written by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan. Unlike the original film, which was only moderately financially successful, the stage play won great acclaim, winning a whole slew of Tony and Drama Desk awards.

The story follows Tracy, a ‘pleasantly plump’, high school kid who is obsessed with the dance show, The Corny Collins Show and begs her shy mother for the chance to audition, her mother refuses fearing that she will become an object of ridicule due to her weight. As it turns out she is rejected, due to her weight and another girl is also turned away because of her colour.

Her exposure on the show leads to some unexpected support for her bubbly personality and her rather large hair. She uses this fame to gather a march on the studio to demand the inclusion of the coloured kids, which leads to her incarceration in the local jail. Breaking out Tracy and her friends invade the show, which works out as the show becomes integrated and Tracy is given a pardon by the governor.

This recording of the stage show is from the NBC television event (2016), which stared Maddie Baillio as Tracy and featured both Martin Short and Rosie O’Donnell. The show, like its companions, Grease and The Sound of Music, were adaptations of the stage plays, rather than the original films. The show integrated the live audience into the background. In adapting the show a couple of the musical numbers were retained from the film with some being cut from the stage play.

The song listing is:

01 - 'Good Morning Baltimore' - Tracy & Ensemble
02 - 'The Nicest Kids in Town' - Corny & Ensemble
03 - 'Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now' - Tracy, Penny, Amber, Edna, Prudy, Velma & Ensemble
04 - 'I Can Hear the Bells' - Tracy & Ensemble
05 - '(The Legend of) Miss Baltimore Crabs' - Velma & Ensemble
06 - 'Ladies’ Choice' - Corny & Ensemble
07 - 'It Takes Two' - Link, Tracy & Ensemble
08 - 'Velma’s Revenge' - Velma
09 - 'Welcome to the '60s' - Tracy, Edna, Mr. Pinky, Dynamites & Ensemble
10 - 'Run and Tell That' - Seaweed, Li le Inez & Ensemble
11 - 'Big, Blonde and Beautiful' - Motormouth & Ensemble
12 - '(You’re) Timeless to Me' - Wilbur & Edna
13 - 'Good Morning Baltimore (Reprise)' - Tracy
14 - 'Without Love' - Link, Tracy, Penny, Seaweed & Ensemble
15 - 'I Know Where I’ve Been' - Motormouth & Ensemble
16 - '(It’s) Hairspray' - Corny & Ensemble
17 - 'Cooties' - Amber & Ensemble
18 - 'You Can’t Stop the Beat' - Tracy, Link, Penny, Seaweed, Edna, Wilbur, Motormouth, Amber, Velma & Ensemble
19 - 'Come So Far (Got So Far to Go)' - Motormouth, Penny & Ensemble

It’s a nice album, especially for fans of the show, which retains the best of the numbers from each of the stories various incarnations. I’m guessing that songs were pre-recorded as the general sound has the clarity of a studio album, rather than the rawer feel of a live album.


Charles Packer

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