Hairspray Holds Its Style

There's nothing stiff about this John Waters-inspired extravaganza

Perhaps Hairspray's highest achievement is its ability to be all things to all people. It's subversive (its second lead is a guy in drag) yet never bitter; it celebrates the rock 'n' roll revolution with songs that scream "show tune!"; it's nostalgic (set in a pretty, Popsicle-hued, pre-integration '60s) without being wistful (its moral: Racism is wrong). And if Hairspray is impressive for celebrating both camp and the very emotions that camp usually pokes fun at, its real triumph is that it takes John Waters' already exaggerated version of Baltimore and further inflates it. Where Waters brought us a subliminally subversive world where the fat girl gets the hunk and wins the beauty pageant, O'Donnell, Meehan and company have sold that improbable story to mainstream audiences. If Hairspray is just another nail in the coffin of Broadway musicals, Middle America is too high off its fumes to care.

Waters work: Troy Britton Johnson and Jordan Ballard in Hairspray.
Paul Kolnick
Waters work: Troy Britton Johnson and Jordan Ballard in Hairspray.

Details

Plays Tuesday, April 13, through April 25. Call 480-784-4444.
ASU's Gammage Auditorium, Mill Avenue and Apache Boulevard in Tempe

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E-mail robrt.pela@newtimes.com

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