Type: Informative Essays
Sample donated: Marlene Lowe
Last updated: August 21, 2019
Sometimes when we read a title for aplay, we automatically judge it and conclude what we think it is about withouteven doing the research for it. When this happens, we do not give it the timeand attention that the play may deserve. Sometimes these types of plays providemore than just entertainment, and present social events/problems in that specifictime, or a bit of history that may serve as learning experiences.
Hairspray(2007), the musical film that I chose to watch for this paper represents justthat for me. I thought that it was based just on people using hairspray onhair, nothing meaningful, which did not interest me at all. After watching thisfilm, it is nothing that I thought it would be. Hairspray(2007) is directed by Adam Shankman. The musical film is based on the 2002 Broadwaymusical, which is based on the 1988 comedy film by John Waters. The 2007 filmset was in Baltimore, Maryland, 1962.
Marc Shaiman is the composer/lyricist andco-lyricist is Scott Wittman. The soundtrack from the film is derived and alteredfrom the Broadway musical, with the addition of four new songs speciallywritten for this film. Filming took place in Toronto & Hamilton, Ontario,Canada, and on soundstages at Toronto’s Showline Studios. Soundtrack recordingwas taken place in Los Angeles, California. Hairspray is a musical comedy that dealswith serious issues in American history. In the book, a musical comedy is aform of musical entertainment that emerged in the United States in the early 20thcentury, which features a light, comic story interspersed with popular music.Hairspray represents this concept. Also, two main themes of this musical are equality& perseverance in standing up for what you believe.
Tracy, the protagonistis an overweight teenager who loves to dance and perseveres in joining “TheCorny Collins Show” after being rejected by the manager (Vulma) at WYZT, awhite supremacist, because of her weight and support for integration. This filmportrays racism in America during the 1960s. Hairspray is inspired by ahistorical event that if it was not for the research done on this film, I wouldnot have found out.
The Buddy Deane Show, which served as the inspiration forthis musical, was a show where white teens danced and sung, which ran from 1957until 1964 when it was cancelled, according to its IMDB page. On its page, itsays that the show aired six days a week, but in 1964 the show was canceledwhen there were protests and bomb threats as WJZ decided to not integrate blackand white teenagers on the show. “From 1957 to 1963, only white teens wereallowed to attend the weekday broadcasts of the Buddy Deane Show, withthe exception of one Monday each month when black teenagers filled the studio(the so-called “Black Monday”). In 1963, the Civic Interest Group, a studentintegrationist group founded at Morgan State University, challenged this policyby obtaining tickets for black and white teens to attend the show on a dayreserved for black teenagers. After a surprise interracial broadcast, WJZ-TVreceived bomb and arson threats, hate mail, and complaints from white parents.Facing controversy over the possibility of more integrated broadcasts, thestation canceled the program.” (Delmont)JohnWaters decided to alternate this historic event and mark it as a successful attemptfor integration instead of following the actual result, which was the cancellationof The Buddy Deane Show. Its main value would be goodintentions, with the main idea being acts of bravery from many people to successfullyintegrate the show.
The story is clear enough for the audience to understand theseries of events taken place thought out the whole process. When the showcanceled “Negro Day,” which was aired once a month, Tracy helped plan a marchfor integration, which she was also a part of despite her race and mother’s disapproval.The protest came with the police blocking the road. These types of protests arestill taking place in today’s society to fight against discrimination andbrutality, which makes the musical relevant today. The film set, lighting, costumes,and sound did successfully contribute to the production’s mood. The musical waslight-hearted and informative, which is backed up by the engaging songs thatwere relevant in the telling of the story.
The costumes provide the informationnecessary for the audience to understand the time in history that was meant tobe portrayed. It was clear where in time the musical was taking place. I cannotthink of any other elements of production that could work into further succeedin contributing to the mood. On the other hand, the performers in the filmsucceed the three challenges of acting.
They make the characters believable.One example is John Travolta’s portrayal of Edna Turnblad. John portrayed anagoraphobic and obese mother, with him being a guy, he made his character believableenough for us to understand it using his voice and body and synthesis and integration.
To conclude, this musical served meas a learning experience of history that I had no idea took place in ourcountry. I knew about the fight for integration and unification, but did notcount with many different and specific examples of attempts for it to happen.This musical is still relevant now, and may be used to inform many others onwhat is still happening because it may look like we have passed this barrier ofsegregation, but in many cases, not just in the African American community, butalso other ethnic groups, it is still much alive. We need to set the spotlighton issues like this one, to count with a better America.
I did not mention itbefore, but in the film, Penny and Seaweed became an interracial couple, whichwe see more today, but for many, it is still an issue. An issue, which againputs barriers in place in an attempt to prevent it from happening. Hairsprayprovided a platform to speak out against the racism that still continues todayin America.