Hairspray, the musical, fit the day like a glove. It was sunny and warm in the gorgeous amphitheatre atop Mt. Tamalpais where Mountain Play is bringing the Broadway hit to the outdoor stage in its 98th annual production.
On this perfect day, the cast and musicians were full of energy, swinging along to the rhythms of the 50’s, and the Memorial Day audience of a thousand or so loved watching the “nicest kids in town” do their stuff.
The musical is adapted from the 1989 movie Hair Spray written and directed by John Waters. Waters wrote the screenplay based on his experiences growing up in Baltimore. Roger Ebert, in his contemporary review of the movie, wrote:
Everybody remembers the early ’60s, that season of innocence when a man could be named Chubby Checker and yet still be a star. The early ’60s were before the Beatles, LSD, Vietnam and hippies. They were in fact a lot like the late ’50s, except that the cars were not as stylish and people were joining the Peace Corps, and, in every town large enough to support a TV station, there was a version of “The Hop.”
The “season of innocence” is maintained and enhanced in the musical adaptation that has been such a success on Broadway.
The Executive Director of the Mountain Play grew up in Baltimore and remembers the times. She says in the program notes:
I grew up in Baltimore, the setting for our play, but that is not the reason we chose to produce Hairspray this season. What appealed to us was the theme of the possibility of change—the “brand new day” that is always around the corner. As a teen I was aware that John Waters, the iconic cult movie director who wrote the original film, Hairspray, was changing the way we talked about issues like segregation and sexuality. His films were edgy, even shocking, but they always had something to say that needed airing, even if it made us squirm a bit.
Regardless of how one interprets the theme of Hairspray, the Mountain Play production seems speaks for itself and the Mt. Tam Memorial Day audience, young and old, were loving what they heard.
The musical Hairspray will continue through June; Performance each Sunday at 2 P.M. Check out the Mountain Play website for tickets and information.
Day 49: Hairspray (John Waters) (1989).