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'Hairspray' is an entertaining musical

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Yesterday, this column reviewed "Muppets Most Wanted," a musical. If the Muppets put you in the mood for more signing and dancing, you might find 2007's "Hairspray" a good choice.

"Hairspray" is set in Baltimore in the 1960s. In it, Tracy Turnblad (played by Nikki Blonsky) is an affable, overweight high school student who loves watching "The Corny Collins Show," a dance show. Tracy, an ardent fan of the show, learns it will be auditioning for a new dancer. She wants to participate, yet her devoted but fretful mom, Edna (played by John Travolta) is against the idea, fearing Tracy will be turned down because of her weight. She goes anyway and is turned down by the bigoted station manager, Velma (played by Michelle Pfeiffer). Later, at a dance, Corny is impressed by her dancing and puts her on the show. Tracy is strongly opposed to racial segregation, which puts her at odds with Velma, who only allows "Negroes" on the show one day per month.

Combining the feel of early 60s rock and roll and more conventional musical fare, "Hairspray" has many catchy numbers. An example is the opening, in which Tracy sings about Baltimore with as much conviction as Curly sings about "Oklahoma" in the opening sequence of that musical.

The cast of the film is strong. Nikki Blonsky is perfect in the lead role. Tracy always wants to do the right thing, which sometimes gets her in trouble. John Travolta is equally good as Edna. He is very amusing as a woman. Michelle Pfeiffer is also excellent as Velma, the racist station manager and impatient mother of the teenager everyone wants to hate. She makes a great villain.

"Hairspray" is a very enjoyable musical.


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