Hairspray
Review By: Gringo

True hairspray story.

One day, quite some time ago, this little Gringo was enrolled in school. Really. I was in a chemistry lesson, which ranked pretty highly on the list of subjects I hated. Funnily enough, the list of subjects I got the worst results in was a close reflection of the first list. Hmm!

The most annoying thing about chemistry was the complete cunt who used to teach it. Several years earlier, Gringo's brother (yes, there are more of me!) had had the same teacher for his chemistry classes. He was late to class once, but the teacher - let's call him Dr. Cunt - held it over him for the rest of his lessons, always criticizing him and picking on him. Eventually, at one parent's evening, as Dr. Cunt was railing about what a bad boy my brother was, my mother stood up, told Dr. Cunt that he was, in her words, "a little shit" who should stop obsessing over my brother, and left his classroom. Now, normally I'm not one for mothers to interfere like that, but ever since that day, Dr. Cunt was as pleasant as punch to my brother.

Not so when I rolled up to my first class with him. Someone spilled acid on my hand? Must have been Gringo! Someone talking at the back of the class? Even though he's sitting at the front, must be Gringo! Someone...you get the picture. Absolutely none of that has relevance to the hairspray story, but it was good to get that off my chest. My sexy, hairless chest.

One day in Dr. Cunt's chemistry class, we were instructed to turn on our Bunsen burners (or flame-creating devices for you simpletons out there) and boil some water to 100 degrees in order to conduct some bizarre experiment. Well, one girl called Slut A decided that her friend, Slut B, was now her ex-friend because - oh goodness! - she no longer wanted to share lockers. These girls were 15 years old each. Quite.

So Slut A decides to wave her lit Bunsen burner at Slut B in what is supposed to be a menacing gesture. Although she looks like a fool doing it, the move has sinister consequences beyond Slut A's wildest imagination. See, Slut B wore a lot of hairspray every day. So much that her hair genuinely never moved. You could molest that headpiece for 24 hours and it would be intact. This was a bad thing when combined with a tiny flame. Slut B's hair went up in a ball of flames, and I think to this day, more than 10 years later, she retains those scars.

Let that be a lesson to you: don't wear hairspray. Or be a slut.

Now, moving on to today's subject in a smooth transitional way, this fine article is all about the stage musical Hairspray. See the connection? GOOD! I didn't know what section to put this review in, but seeing as this site's music section has about two articles in it, and musicals feature, well, music, this seemed like a good place to drop it.

This musical is based on the John Waters movie of the same name (it's called Hairspray, you stupid fuck! PAY ATTENTION! FOR FUCK'S SAKE!). Set in Baltimore, Maryland, in the 1960s it's the story of chubby teenager Tracy Turnblad and her dream of making it as a dancer on teen cheese-fest The Corny Collins Show, where a lot of hip young things shake their hip young booties to hip young tunes and...you get the butt.

Tracy also confronts that icky thing called racism, and along with her best friend Penny and random black guy Seaweed, they face ups and downs on the way to a major dance contest that pits fatso against a prissy blonde with an overbearing mother. Guess who wins? Shut up! Also in the plot is Edna, Tracy's mother. In the movie, he/she was played by Divine, a person that after watching several John Waters movies, I'm growing rather fond of. Not in that way, you stupid cunt. Go watch Polyester and Pink Flamingos for starters and maybe you'll see what I mean.

So! Rambling plot paragraph over and done with, now I can talk about the show. I might save a review of the movie Hairspray for another day - you lucky things! - so I won't give my thoughts on that. Rather, I'll focus on the musical. And what a good musical it is. Seriously. No, really. I know I use those words rather often to denote sarcasm, but this time I mean it. This is a good show.

I understand that Harvey Fierstein, that gravel-voiced homosexual, played a fine Edna Turnblad when the show first opened on Broadway. The touring version I saw featured John Pinette. I have no idea who he is, but he sure can wear a fat person's dress well. It's weird, but handled correctly, you almost forget you're watching a fat man in drag because of the incredibly catchy songs and the very sweet relationship between Edna and Tracy. Oh no! Heartfelt sentiment on Listen To Me! It's the end of the world as we know it!

From the very first song Good Morning, Baltimore, it's very clear that this musical is all about upbeat tunes, funny lyrics and giving the audience a good time. I particularly like these fine lyrical examples from the aforementioned opening number:

The rats on the street
All dance round my feet

Good morning Baltimore
There's the flasher who lives next door
There's the bum on his bar room stool
They wish me luck on my way to school

And to make it even better, you actually get to see the flasher who lives next door and the bum on his bar room stool. I love the staging of this show. The sets are all done in bright colors, the buildings all have strange angles like you're watching a cartoon, and the cast are all decked out in clothes that might appear in the dreams of some drug-riddled Project: Runway contestant. Incidentally, it's a safe bet said contestant would probably be gay.

This show passes very quickly because it's so entertaining, but the songs do stick in your head afterward. Among other favorites I had from the show were the songs Mama, I'm A Big Girl Now (because I'm a fairy) that has the choice lyrics "Once upon a time I used to play with toys, but now I'd rather play around with teenage boys" among others, and the number You Can't Stop The Beat, which is the finale and is suitably loud and uplifting. Hi, I'm a dork!

You can probably tell (and if not, you're a dumb one) that I really liked Hairspray. Sure, most of the songs are fluffy, but they're a good, catchy type of fluffy and I like them. There is hardly a wasted number her, barring the number It Takes Two, which is a rip-off of a stereotypical 1960s teenage love song that seems like a time filler and breaks up the momentum of the show. I highly recommend going to see this show on Broadway or catching it on tour. Hopefully Joe will be able to place links to the show's Broadway and tour websites and link them in the bold underlined places. Thanks, Joe!

Meanwhile, those wacky movie moguls in Hollywoodland are apparently plotting nefariously to turn Hairspray into a movie musical. I guess they're taking the model of the The Producers, which went from being a great comedy into a great stage musical into a mediocre movie musical. Why might Hairspray the movie musical suck? Because rather than use Harvey Fierstein in the role of Edna, these Los Angeles wise guys are thinking of John Travolta.

Yeah, John Travolta. Please adopt a 1930s wise guy accent before reading the next couple of sentences. They'll put him in the moving pictures, see! Lights, cameras, action! You're going to be a star on the silver screen, see!

Please, Mr. Producer, I beg of you. Don't use Travolta for Edna. Just hire Harvey Fierstein. Pretty please? I don't know quite what I can offer, and it's certainly neither money nor sex, but I could maybe buy you a slice of pie if you do what I ask. I know Travolta sang in Grease, but that's no reason to replace the person who apparently did the role the most justice. And yes, I know Travolta is a growing hamburger and all, but Fierstein is plenty fat already.

In closing, movie man, just remember these simple tips:

Harvey Fierstein in a dress = amusing and strangely endearing
John Travolta in a dress = a sick mess

See you at the movies!


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