Everything Is Big, Bold and Beautiful in Hairspray Live!

Written by Jennifer Amato

“This is America, babe. You gotta think big to be big.”

The live production of Hairspray was phenomenal. I felt like I was watching a Broadway play, as if the actors had been performing the musical every day. I didn’t even realize how many times my toes were tapping during the musical numbers.

All of the cast members did a superb job as a live TV show. The casting director did an excellent job filling each role. The acting was decent, overshadowed by exceptional voices, great dancing skills and star power – everything you come to expect in a high profile musical.

Photo Credit: Paul Drinkwater/NBC

There was beautiful use of lighting and design – and space. I enjoyed NBC’s first live production of The Sound of Music but it was apparent how limited the scenery was. Hairspray seemed more exquisite because of the use of space, dancing and singing from lot to lot. I appreciate the use of the entire NBC Studios location.

At first, I didn’t care for the “live” breaks to the audiences across the country, but I realized it was a clever way to change sets, take a breath and show how profoundly the storyline affected viewers around the nation. The backstage action was fun to watch.

More importantly, being profound was a theme of the musical – the storyline encompasses being famous, battling segregation, handling familial relationships, dealing with teenage rebellion, falling in teenage love, experiencing maturity, following your dreams, achieving the impossible and loving all. What a poignant play for today: the story crosses all types of boundaries from the 1960s that still exist today, proving how far we’ve come as a society but how much more progress we still need to make. The characters battled prejudice against people who aren’t “perfect” per societal standards – racially, physically, gender-wise, even personality-wise.

I am more and more impressed with NBC’s live productions. I’ve never seen any version of Hairspray, and I admit, I had zero clue about the plotline. However, based on this version, I think I’m hooked.


I am a managing editor/staff writer for Newspaper Media Group and a content coordinator for Best Version Media’s “Our Robbinsville” magazine in addition to contributing to The Pop Break. I love crime dramas such as “Blue Bloods” and “Chicago Fire,” reality shows like “Impractical Jokers” and anything on The Food Network.