Sunday, 5 February 2017

Hairspray Live (2016) vs Hairspray Film (2007)

Hello readers, and welcome back post holiday season! It's now that awkward time between the end of school and beginning of university where you don't know what day it is or feel inclined to leave the house, which for some is a literal dream come true, but for others can get a bit repetitive and boring. Personally, I'm a big fan of doing nothing so I'm loving my life, but to pull whoever is bothered to read my blog out of their post holidays depression, I've decided to entertain you today with a little musical comparison between NBC's recent(ish), live televised production of 'Hairspray' that aired on December 7th 2016, and the classic 2007 film version. One half of me is totally against this, because I respect that the two of them are both pretty awesome in their own right, and that it doesn't have to be a competition, but the other, more stubborn half is super overly analytical and heavily into musical theatre, and loves nothing more than deconstructing movies, television and live theatre. You can probably guess which half ended up winning. So, basically to appease the ENFP in me, I've decided to compare the two by looking at each cast member individually, because who doesn't love hyper critical judgement? Morally dubious justification complete, let's get into it . . .


Tracy Turnblad - Nickii Blonsky v Maddie Ballio

This one goes to Nickii Blonsky from the movie, 100%. She was literally the perfect Tracy, so already that's a lot to live up to, but Maddie Ballio's lack lustre performance of 'Good Morning Baltimore' is really what solidified this for me, not to mention she totally forgot the lyrics twice. Even though she got a lot better as she went along, I really found that hard to let go of.

VERDICT: Movie Version

Edna Turnblad - John Travolta v Harvey Fierstein

This one's pretty difficult because I feel like they both gave us two very different, but very fab Edna Turnblads. I know that Harvey Fierstein is like, THE Edna, but honestly, I think I'm giving this one to John Travolta, not only for his lol of a fat suit, but because of his more earnest portrayal and gutsy stab at a Baltimore accent. But Harvey Fierstein, you are still Hollywood goals (also please hire me, I'll literally pay you).

VERDICT: Movie Version

Link Larkin - Zac Efron v Garrett Clayton

I really feel like this is the showdown of Disney Alumni. Troy Bolton against that guy from 'Teen Beach Movie' whose character name escapes me. When I heard that Garrett Clayton was playing Link, to be honest I was really excited. I thought he was good in 'Teen Beach Movie' and the character he played in that film isn't dissimilar to Link, so to be honest I thought he would slay. Unfortunately, this wasn't quite the case. Don't get me wrong, he wasn't bad or anything, he just wasn't particularly memorable or exciting, and to be completely honest, whenever the camera was on him, I was overwhelmingly distracted by the 12 tons of make-up he had on. Zac Efron however pretty much nailed it in the movie version, which I didn't even realise until I saw other people's attempts, so kudos to Troy.

VERDICT: Movie Version

Wilbur Turnblad - Christopher Walken v Martin Short

Once again, I seem to be faced with a very difficult decision between two Hollywood legends, go figure. While I think they both did a pretty fabulous job as Wilbur, I'm giving this one to Martin Short, pretty much because he's clearly the better singer. Also, he actually made me pay attention to 'You're Timeless to Me', which, not gonna lie, I fast forward through every time I've ever watched the film. However, I repeat, they're both hella great.

VERDICT: Live Version

Motormouth Maybelle - Queen Latifah v Jennifer Hudson

Again, it seems I've got myself a pretty mammoth decision. In terms of acting, I'd say these two powerhouses are about even, but when it comes to singing, even though Queen Latifah is amazing and gives me so much life, is it even possible to beat Jennifer Hudson? I know it was quite controversial having her sing 'Big Blonde and Beautiful' despite the fact that she's not even close to being fat, which, you know, is kinda awkward and low key offensive, but in literally every other way Jennifer was perfect for this role, so just this once I think I can overlook it. Plus, her 'I Know Where I've Been' completely brought the house down and was a major highlight of the whole thing.

VERDICT: Live Version

Velma Von Tussell - Michelle Pfeiffer v Kristin Chennoweth

Honestly, this is my favourite role in the whole musical, and has been ever since I was like 8. When I heard that Queen Kristin was playing Velma in the live version, I was beyond excited, and had no doubt that she would slay hard out. Call me clairvoyant, because I was totally correct. She was absolutely flawless and amazing, and while Michelle Pfeiffer was super incredible, there's just no beating the Broadway perfection that is Kristin Chennoweth (well, at least in my books).

VERDICT: Live Version

Seaweed - Elijah Kelley v Ephraim Sykes

To be honest, because they approached the role in a similar way, it's kinda hard to differentiate between the two Seaweed portrayals, which makes this decision extra difficult to make. Which is why I'm going to be a total cop out and not make it at all. It's official, we have our first tie. I mean, come on, they both killed it, what choice do I have?


Penny Lou Pingleton - Amanda Bynes v Ariana Grande


If you're not familiar with the movie version, you'd think that this would be an obvious choice, but surprisingly, Amanda Bynes doesn't play a bad Penny Lou Pingleton. I mean sure, she really can't sing at all and they use a ton of auto tune, but her acting is pretty damn good. However, I'm going to give this one to Ariana because despite that, she was still a way better all-rounder.

VERDICT: Live Version

Amber Von Tussell - Brittany Snow v Dove Cameron

When I heard that Dove Cameron was playing Amber in 'Hairspray Live', I was once again super excited. I've seen 'Liv and Maddie' and 'Descendants' and low key stalked her relationship with Ryan McCartan (which I'm super sad is over), so I was pretty up on her capabilities, so it's really no surprise that she killed it. I mean, Brittany Snow is fabulous and I love her, but Dove just upped the sass and crushed the vocals and really gave me no choice but to crown her as the ultimate Amber.

VERDICT: Live Version

Corny Collins - James Marsden v Derek Hough

To be honest, until I saw the live version, I didn't really realise how good James Marsden was at playing Corny Collins. I'm not saying Derek Hough was bad, because he certainly wasn't, it's just that Corny literally wasn't even on my radar while watching Hairspray Live, whereas in the movie, his one liners and allegiance with Tracy were some of my favourite parts. I mean Derek Hough danced and acted well enough, and while, try as he might, he's not exactly much of a singer, that wasn't really the reason I didn't pay him much attention. James Marsden just brought a certain charisma that wasn't too outrageously over the top that made Corny Collins awesome, so I really have to go with him on this one.

VERDICT: Movie Version

Prudence Pingleton - Allison Janney v Andrea Martin

To be honest, I was low key disappointed with Mrs Pingleton in Hairspray Live, however this has absolutely nothing to do with Andrea Martin's portrayal. Allison Janney in the film plays her totally hard-line and dictator-y, while Andrea Martin in the live version is super over the top, both interpretations being ones with merit. However, the real problem for me in Hairspray Live was her severe lack of screen time. In the movie, I feel like Penny's mum is always popping up and trying to ruin her life which brings with it absolute hilarity, while in the live version, she was barely even a minor role. Therefore, this one goes to the queen of supporting characters Allison Janney (seriously, she's in everything).

VERDICT: Movie Version

Little Inez - Taylor Parks v Shahadi Wright Joseph

Again, this one is a pretty tough call. I remember back in the day being super blown away by Taylor Parks in the movie, and after rewatching it several times at the ripe old age of 18, I am still incredibly impressed. While watching Hairspray Live, I also thought Shahadi's Little Inez was great, however perhaps didn't have the same vocal and acting maturity as Taylor did in the film, which is understandable considering she's 3 years younger. So taking age in to account, I'm going to once again opt out of this one and just say it's a tie.


And that's basically everyone involved who's worth mentioning! According to my probably inaccurate maths, I'm pretty that's 7 all, which means that both casts tied, however I'm not that annoying, and am going to just come out and say that personally I prefer the movie version over 'Hairspray Live'. It's not everyday that a really good movie musical comes along, so when it does, you have to cherish it. Saying that, I am in no way insinuating that 'Hairspray Live' is bad, because I honestly really enjoyed it, but for some reason it just felt slightly more abridged than the film.  However, interestingly enough, I often find live productions of 'Hairspray' to be a little bit lack luste (probably because I've been spoiled with a super amazing film version), and Hairspray Live certainly didn't fit into that category, so is still definitely worth checking out. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that Hairspray is awesome in every capacity, and that the 2007 film and 2016 live event should both be appreciated in their own right. Til' next time . . .

Annabel xx


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