Despite its many iterations — musical, movie musical, live televised musical — John Waters’ original version of Hairspray, released in 1988, remains the best. Now, I’m a fan of musicals, and I’ll admit the Tony-winning Broadway version is pretty damned solid, with opening number, “Good Morning Baltimore,” being the best of the bunch. I’ll even cut some slack to “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” despite it being almost insipidly cloying.
That said, Waters’ film is just so perfectly bizarre and fun and joyous, with a perfect selection of Cameo Parkway R&B sides soundtracking everything. The plot, if you’ve never seen any of the various iterations, revolves around Baltimore teenager Tracy Turnblad getting on The Corny Collins Show, dancing, then becoming more racially aware, dancing, fighting for integration, and more dancing.
Read the From the Stereo to Your Screen column on Rachel Sweet and Hairspray
. Published 1/10/17