TV Shows + Specials

The Highs and Lows of ‘Hairspray Live!’

With Hairspray Live! being both a movie musical and a broadway musical in the past, there were a number of different interpretations to choose from. Would the acting for Tracy be more of a Ricki Lake, Nikki Blonsky, or Malissa Jared Winokur? Would Link be more Zefron or Matthew Morrison? Queen Latifah or Ruth Brown as Motormouth Maybelle? Or would the actors take the characters and make them their own? All in all, it was a fun remake. Here are the weakness and highlights of Hairspray Live! 


HAIRSPRAY LIVE! -- Pictured: (l-r) Garrett Clayton as Link Larkin, Maddie Baillio as Tracy Turnblad -- (Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC)

(Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC)

As with most remakes, there’s always going to be comparisons to be made. The actors who played Tracy, Link, Amber, and Penny weren’t bad exactly, but they were missing something that made the other interpretations interesting. Looking at Garrett Clayton’s Link, I didn’t get the classic “teen heartthrob” vibe. I didn’t understand why Tracy or the other girls went wild over him. Though, to be fair, I was a bit biased because his intro left something to be desired. Zac Efron’s “And I’m… Link” complete with Elvis hip movements in the movie will always be tops for me.
HAIRSPRAY LIVE! -- Pictured: (l-r) Ariana Grande as Penny Pingleton, Maddie Baillio as Tracy Turnblad -- (Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC)

(Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC)

Tracy also didn’t seem to have the same bold personality. She seemed like what Penny was supposed to be, and Penny seemed like Ariana Grande’s character Cat Valentine from Victorious, spending most of the show randomly running away and being a ditz. Also, the only moment that was really memorable for Dove Cameron’s Amber was a pretty run she hit during “Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now.”
HAIRSPRAY LIVE! -- Pictured: Derek Hough as Corny Collins -- (Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC)

(Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC)

Derek Hough’s Corny Collins suffered from the same problem as Clayton. Technically, he was good. He managed to hit his notes, and dances at the same time, but he lacked the charisma of James Marsden’s Corny Collins.
HAIRSPRAY LIVE! -- "Production Screen Grabs" -- Pictured: (l-r) -- (Photo by: NBC)

(Photo by: NBC)

Anytime Jennifer Hudson’s Motormouth Maybelle was on screen was a highlight. Not only did she blow the roof off every single song (“Big, Blonde, and Beautiful” will always be an extreme hype song), but she looked beautiful, especially in the gold suit during “You Can’t Stop The Beat.”
HAIRSPRAY LIVE! -- "Production Screen Grabs" -- Pictured: (l-r) -- (Photo by: NBC)

(Photo by: NBC)

Kristin Chenoweth, who could sing the phonebook and sound gorgeous, added extra energy to any scene she was in. Shahidi Wright Joseph’s Lil Inez came to show off during her verse in “Run and Tell That!” and I loved when she tried to snatch Amber’s crown during the ending scene. Ephraim Sykes’s performance of “Run and Tell That!” was also extremely well done, even if he was a little bit behind the beat in the chorus.
“You Can’t Stop The Beat” is always a highlight, and the live cast didn’t disappoint. Edna and Wilbert’s romantic “You’re Timeless to Me,” the high-energy “Welcome to the 60s” featuring the original Dynamites, and “Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now” were also highlights.
What did you think of the show? Let us know in the comments!
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