by Anna Hartman -Student Life Editor
Hairspray Live, the latest installment in NBC’s series of live TV musicals, aired December 7th, 2016, to a mixed bag of reviews and opinions from many critics.
NBC established its traidition of airing a live musical around the holiday season beginning in 2013 with The Sound of Music, continuing on with Peter Pan, followed by The Wiz, culminating in Hairspray this year.
Many viewers would agree that, compared to the other mediums Hairspray has been presented in, such as the original stage production and the two movie adaptations in 1988 and 2007, NBC’s live version was underwhelming to say the least.
“It was not as good was I was expecting it to be,” said senior Tessa Carroll, “I was hoping for it to be a lot better. It wasn’t up to my expectations.”
Drama teacher and drama club director Pamela Cressey also had opinions about the mistakes made in Hairspray Live.
“Hairspray Live should be buried and dead,” Cressey said, “I turned it off in the first five minutes. But then again, I saw the real live version before it went to Broadway and won many, many Tonys.”
The production was littered with mistakes, such as mic issues and other technical difficulties, as well as many actors breaking character and many missteps that took away from the overall quality of the production. Many of the mistakes made in Hairspray Live are not unheard of for stage productions, but on TV these mistakes were glaring and distracting, as the broadcast did not have anywhere near the heart of intimate connection with the audience that can be found in a stage production.
There were silver linings, though, despite the technical issues that greatly hindered Hairspray Live, most of these silver linings within the cast. Though some members of the cast fell flat, some shone brightly as their characters.
“I thought that it was not great,” said senior Kiera McCurdy, “But I thought that Seaweed was probably my favorite.”
Ephraim Sykes, who played Seaweed J. Stubbs, did an exceptional job in his role after being a part of Hamilton’s company on Broadway.
Jennifer Hudson as Motormouth Maybelle was also a definite standout of the production, bringing down the house with her emotional rendition of I Know Where I’ve Been, a powerful song about racial tension and conflict in the 1960s.
Hairspray itself will stand the test of time as an important reminder of how far we have come with social issues and how far we have to go, though Hairspray Live will not be the form of the iconic show that will remind future generations of the ever-energetic Tracy Turnblad and her quest to dance on TV and in the process fight for equality in her hometown of Baltimore.
Overall, Hairspray Live had many more faults than positive aspects and disappointed many fans of the original show. Hairspray itself is a fun and energetic live production that everyone deserves to see on a professional stage, however, Hairspray Live isn’t the adaptation that people should watch to familiarize themselves with the story of the show. Hairspray is much better suited to the live production due to its catchy songs and powerful message, not a live television broadcast littered with mistakes.