Tri-State Theater

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Friday, December 09, 2016

Hairspray Live!

   Social media has been burning up today with comments and reviews about Hairspray Live, the latest live musical presentation on network television.

   I'm seeing lots of raves and a lot of nit-picking - but I don't know how anyone could watch it and not have a big smile on his or her face.

   The show is just loaded with positive energy and great messages - not to mention some wonderful songs!

   And the cast was terrific, from newcomer Maddie Baillio as Tracy, to stars like Kristin Chenoweth, Harvey Fierstein, Jennifer Hudson, Martin Short, Ariana Grande and Derek Hough. They all had their moments to shine (or often, to steal scenes altogether).

   Chenoweth is always amazing, even playing the heel, and Jennifer Hudson blew the roof off the joint with her incredible voice. And thank goodness we got to see Fierstein in this signature role - he was an absolute scream!

   The show carries a great message (several of them, actually), and it's just pure fun from start to finish.

   Which is not to say that I liked everything about it. There were a few technical problems (mostly minor lighting issues), I didn't care for the "live" commercial breaks or the remote shots from the crowd or different locations around the country - all that just diverted attention from the performance. I'm not sure why the tinkered with the staging of "You Can't Stop the Beat" (although nothing can keep that song from being fun). And I'm shocked that they missed Kristin's "curtain call" at the end of the show (the curtain call was a bit of a train wreck anyway - maybe they needed one more rehearsal).

   But all those things are just minor irritants - it was a joyful, powerful show with ingenious staging and amazing performances - I'll be keeping that one on my DVR for a long time!


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