It’s hard to imagine a better time for the story of “Hairspray” to be told, given the current political climate, and the cast of “Hairspray Live!” is more concerned that ever with spreading the message of inclusion and acceptance the show has to offer.
Tracy Turnblad’s (Maddie Baillio) story — about a dancer who rises to greatness despite having a different body image than typical TV starlets of the ’60s — has a wonderful message about self-confidence and acceptance. Perhaps more importantly though, Tracy’s journey is accompanied by a deeper story about the segregation and racism that ran rampant in the not-so-distant history of the United States.
“For me, when I first saw the show I thought it was so much about two groups of people — one was on the wrong side of history and one was on the right side of history, and I think that we’re witnessing this again today,” Martin Short, who plays Tracey’s father says. “That’s why this show being presented now — the timing of it — is astounding, because it’s all about acceptance and being open and not having color barriers.”
We predict the message about segregation and discrimination will be particularly poignant during Jennifer Hudson’s performance of Maybelle’s iconic song, “I Know Where I’ve Been.”
“Jennifer Hudson, when she sings that song, I mean people are in tears,” Derek Hough says. “People are crying, even more so now. You listen to it and you’re kind of upset, you’re like, ‘How are we here again?'”
While more than a few tears will most likely be shed during the show, there will also be an abundance of joy and laughter. The best part about “Hairspray Live!” is that it’s ultimately a story of hope, love and friendship wrapped up in a hilarious, high energy musical.
Numbers like “Run and Tell That” and “You Can’t Stop the Beat” will lighten up the somber material, and have you feeling hopeful about the future, instead of mired in the misery of the present.
“Doing this show brings people together, and it’s coming at the exact right time,” Kristein Chenowith says. “Hopefully we send out nothing but love and joy and music.”
“The beautiful thing about it is that the show is happy and fun and playful and hopeful,” Ariana Grande agrees, “But it will bring you to tears and make you feel all of the things that you’re supposed to be feeling right now. It will move you, and it says so much, but at the same time it will make you happy.”
“Hairspray Live!” airs Wednesday (Dec. 7) at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.