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‘Hairspray Live’ hits the small screen

December 16, 2016
Maddie Ballio made her television debut as Tracy Turnblad. – Courtesy of NBC

Maddie Ballio made her television debut as Tracy Turnblad. – Courtesy of NBC

 

Sarah Semon
Staff Reporter | sks033@latech.edu

 

“Hairspray Live” hit the small screen Wednesday, Dec. 7 on NBC.   “Hairspray” is only one of the many live musical productions the television channel has put on, but it was by far one of the best. Everything from the costumes to the set was colorful and electric. The entire vibe of the musical was contagious and made you want to dance and sing along.

 

Tracy Turnblad, the main character, was played by Maddie Ballio. Ballio had no prior professional theater experience but no one would ever be able to tell by seeing her performance in “Hairspray.” She was definitely the standout star of the show and her booming voice and boisterous attitude brought the musical to another level.

 

Ariana Grande, whose career started on stage, played Penny Pingleton. Her background in theater definitely showed in her performance.Her one-liners throughout were well delivered and perfectly timed. She brought the comedy element to the serious racial and acceptance issues the production touched on.

 

Kristin Chenoweth is no stranger to musical productions as she starred in the musical “Wicked” as Glinda. Chenoweth’s portrayal of the overbearing mother of Amber Von Tussle, Velma, was as cringe worthy and ridiculous as Velma Von Tussle is.

 

Dove Cameron, who played Chenoweth’s daughter, was not anything special. She did a good job, but with such a great cast she was overshadowed by the other performances.

 

Derek Hough is one of the best dancers in Hollywood, but there was no prior evidence that his singing skills matched his dancing skills. I for one was pleasantly surprised by his performance. He brought the over-the-top personality of Corny Collins to life.

 

Garrett Clayton played Link Larkin, and his character was not given enough screen-time. In the “Hairspray” movie, Zac Efron, who played Link Larkin, was the main face of the film other than Tracy, but the live production cut Clayton short. Clayton did a wonderful job of playing the sweet stud. His musical, dancing and acting talents brought the character to life.

 

Jennifer Hudson played Motormouth Maybelle, and although her role was very small, she gave a big performance. Her songs “Big, Blonde and Beautiful” and “I Know Where I’ve Been” were some of the best in the show.

 

NBC made a very smart decision by choosing to reinvent “Hairspray.” The racial and acceptance issues the show touches on are still relevant today and becoming more relevant in the recent years.

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