Murry Bergtraum High School, Grade 12
At a recent performance of Hairspray, I believe I had the best seats in the house: fifth-row center. After taking my seat, I knew that nothing could ruin my evening, even as the usher screamed in my ear "No cell phones." While waiting for the show to begin, two things stood out to me the most. First: the range of diversity among the audience. There were people attending this show of all ages, ethnicities and genders. Second: this odd, stringy-looking but appealing curtain that was complemented by a bright blue light. Before I knew it the curtains were up and I was in 1962 Baltimore.
Now I don't know about anybody else, but when the show started I felt the urge to dance just like Tracy Turnblad. Her love for dancing is evident in her opening song, "Good Morning Baltimore." This opening not only captured the mood of the 1960s but also compelled the audience members to become a part of the show. This performance was so sincere and heartfelt that it would have been a shame for anyone not to engage themselves in the story of the big-haired optimist who dreamed of dancing on television.
If the Disney and the MTV channels had exist 40 years ago and had a baby, it would look a lot like The Corny Collins Show. All the show's "regulars" were incredibly talented individuals and everyone wants to be just like them. But unlike Disney and MTV, where diversity and self-image are celebrated and encouraged, The Corny Collins Show initially proves to have different standards. Tracy and Inez, her African-American friend, are denied a spot on the show because the producer feels that Tracey doesn't have the" image" and Inez has the wrong ethnicity. The producer, Velma Van Tussle, wants the show to be strictly white and for the women to look like her daughter, Amber, a blonde beauty who shares the same narrow ideas as her. Little does Velma know that this will bring an uprising and change her idea of a perfect world drastically, as it will cause an interracial relationship, an unlikely romance between Tracy and Link, a teen idol, and ultimately the integration of The Corny Collins Show.
Great acting aside, it's the music, set and costumes that take this show over the top. These three assets also make it easier to understand the time period of the show: bright colors, weird-shaped houses and head-bopping music are just three of the many things that are most memorable about the show. In the words of my friend KarenL: "Hairspray is ridiculously fricken awesome."
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