HAIRSPRAY LIVE! — Season: 2016 — Pictured: (l-r) back row: Ephraim Skyes as Seaweed J. Stubbs, Jennifer Hudson as Motormouth Maybelle, Martin Short as Wilbur Turnblad, Dove Cameron as Amber Von Tussle; middle row: Ariana Grande as Penny Pingleton, Garrett Clayton as Link Larkin, Harvey Fierstein as Edna Turnblad, Maddie Baillio as Tracy Turnblad, Kristin Chenoweth as Velma Von Tussle, front row: Shahadi Wright Joseph as Little Inez, Derek Hough as Corny Collins (Photo by: Brian Bowen Smith/NBC) Photo courtesy of hugogloss.com
Some thoughts on productions like the recent “Hairspray Live!” that have been aired by NBC and Fox, and what I think should be shown next.
Last Wednesday I saw “Hairspray Live!”, NBC’s fourth live action musical production after beginning in 2013 with “The Sound of Music Live!”, followed by “Peter Pan Live!” in 2014 and “”The Wiz Live!” in 2015.
I thought it was okay, Maddie Baillio doing a pretty good job – for her first professional role – as lead character Tracy Turnblad with Jennifer Hudson as Motormouth Maybelle and Ariana Grande as Tracy’s best friend Penny Pingleton using their considerable vocal abilities to bring down the house, particularly at the end with their duet in “Come So Far (Got So Far To Go)”.
The 2007 movie version of Hairspray’s “You Can’t Stop The Beat”. Courtesy of YouTube.
Though I felt that the 2007 movie version and the original film in 1988 were better, “Hairspray Live!” was good enough a solid A for effort and a B for execution.
As I watched the live version on NBC, it got me to thinking what Broadway musicals should next be produced on network television as ever since “Sound of Music”, it has been a trend for NBC as well as Fox, who produced “Grease Live!”in January to much acclaim, to show live action musicals as they did with Peter Pan starring Mary Martin in the late 1950s and early 60s.
I won’t waste any more time – here are the four productions that have been famous smashes on Broadway that I would like to see…
The cast of the 1973 movie version of Godspell, featuring Titanic’s Victor Garber (fourth from left) as Jesus Christ. Photo courtesy of imgarcade.com
I really liked the movie version of the story of our Lord and Savior according to the Gospel of St. Matthew, and it would be perfect for this to be shown live Easter Week or Christmas Week.
I can totally see people going nuts with this signature song, which turned out to be a hit on the charts in the early 1970s:
“Day By Day”, the hit song sung by Robin Lamont in the ’73 movie version of Godspell. Courtesy of YouTube.
The cast of the 2005 movie version of “Rent”, six of them having been part of the original cast on Broadway. Photo courtesy of galleryhip.com
When I saw this film based on the 1996 Broadway smash about young people dealing with poverty, drugs, homosexuality and AIDS, I cried my eyes out because it spoke so loudly to me about following my dreams.
Not to mention it being my Generation X’s contribution to the Great White Way.
“Seasons of Love”, part of the opening to the 2005 film version of Rent. Courtesy of YouTube.
Considering the issues covered and the cultural and political climate today, as great as “Rent” is I don’t expect a production of this to appear live on TV anytime soon.
But it would sure be cool if was; I, along with I reckon millions of others, would love to see it.
Ben Vereen, William Katt, and Chita Rivera in the 1981 Canadian TV version of “Pippin”. Photo courtesy of YouTube.com
This would be cool to see live on network TV for two reasons:
- Two of the songs in particular, “Magic To Do” and “Corner of the Sky”, are great tunes, and…
- It eloquently tells the story of a young man trying to find himself and where he fits in the world, something we can all relate to – in a sense, I’m still trying to find mine!
“Magic To Do”, Pippin’ s opening number sung by Ben Vereen which became a hit on the charts. Courtesy of YouTube.
A still from the original Broadway version of “Annie” in 1977. Photo courtesy of broadwayworld.com
If you were a seven-to-fourteen year old girl starting in 1977 and lasting through the 80s and 90s and even to this day, you were and are a HUGE fan of this production.
How could it not be so with seven girls singing and dancing their heart out over how much of a hard knock life they have, with one of them being so optimistic despite living in an orphanage during the Great Depression that she’s always singing about how the sun will come out tomorrow?
While I didn’t quite fit the demographic of who would be a fan of this show, being a boy and all, I would be surprised if NBC or Fox didn’t put out a live version of this within the next five years.
Well, there you have it.
Hopefully these productions will be shown live as I think they would go over well.
What does everyone else think?
The 1999 TV movie version of “A Hard Knock Life” (just click on the link). Notice Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland as Molly, the youngest orphan. Courtesy of YouTube.