UNLV Music Library Highlighted Media: Hairspray (2007)

Hairspray, the motion picture, is largely categorized as a musical comedy, and is set in 1960s Baltimore. Teenager Tracy Turnblad (Nicole Blonsky), the main character, longs to dance on “The Corny Collins Show,” and takes a chance at auditioning. Tracy eventually ends up on the show, but is belittled by the show’s favorite, Amber, and Amber’s mother, Velma. At the same time, Tracy also fights with the two and with many segregationists to bring racial integration on “The Corny Collins Show.” The movie has many themes, but the main one is bringing racial integration to the fictional Baltimore TV Show and throughout the city. 

This 2007 version was adapted from the 1988 movie of the same name, along with the 2002 Hairspray Broadway Musical. Music and lyrics from the movie were rewritten by the original’s Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman. Both had to find a way to cut out some excess of the previous version. Direction and choreographer, Adam Shankman, worked throughout the entire movie with associate choreographers, Jamal Sims, Anne Fletcher, and Zach Woodlee to create an entertaining set of musical numbers. In the movie, there are 20 musical numbers in total, with songs like “Good Morning Baltimore,” “The New Girl in Town,” “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” and “(It’s) Hairspray.” 

Hairspray won the Critics Choice Award for Best Acting Ensemble in 2008, along with a Golden Reel Award for Best sound Editing in a Musical Feature. Its cast contained some of the most talented singers like breakout star Nicole Blonksy as Tracy, and John Travolta as Tracy’s mother, Edna. Queen Latifah, Amanda Bynes, Elijah Kelley, Zac Efron, and James Marsden are some of the main cast as well. 

Many critiqued the film due to the casting of John Travolta as Edna Turnbland. In the original 1988 Hairspray film, Edna was played by Divine. Divine was upheld as an artist who helped push drag culture into the mainstream media. Travolta’s take on Edna was timid rather than theatrical, making some critics find it underwhelming compared to the over the top Divine take.

Want to borrow the physical copy of this movie? You can find it in the UNLV Music Library! 

To request, check out the catalog here: 

UNLV Catalog - Hairspray 2007

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