Thursday, July 26, 2007

A second huff of "Hairspray"

So, as promised, I revisited “Hairspray” on Friday night, at a surprisingly not-packed 10 p.m. showing at the world famous (and deservedly so) Ziegfeld Theatre. To be fair, a half-full crowd at the Ziegfeld is still about 600 people, and it was as enthusiastic a crowd as I could have hoped for; I have a feeling the lack of a sell out was in large part due to ‘Deathly Hallows’ being released at midnight, but that’s just me. On a second viewing, my general feelings on the film remained the same but I may have been a tad too harsh in one or two spots, and not harsh enough in one.

Yes, I still hated Travolta. Still felt the delivery of his lines and singing was awful and all wrong for Edna. Sorry. And I know it’s not his fault, but I still can’t get over how freakish and non-human he looks in those prosthetics. Just having him camp it up at a drag queen would have been better and more human than what’s done with him here, where he looks like a Muppet who’s had experiments done on it against its will.

I was also perhaps a little too easy on Amanda Bynes when I said only her awful singing was deserving of criticism. She gives almost no sense of character or fun to Penny and the little impression she gives off is one of mild irritation. Granted, I’ve never liked her in anything, but this did nothing to change my mind.

On the other hand, I was probably a bit unfair to Mr. Adam Shankman when I said everything good here should be credited completely to the creators of the stage show. While I still have his doubts about his directing ability for non-musicals, he clearly has a love for the material here and does a tremendous job with most of the musical numbers. It’s a credit to him that the film exudes the same sense of fun (if not necessarily the energy) as the stage show, and he handles most of the transitions from one medium to another with wit and aplomb.

While I'd be lying if I said I wasn't more excited for Julie Taymor’s musical “Across the Universe,” I just wanted people who thought I was too harsh initially to know that I did have a lot more fun with “Hairspray” a second time around. Who knows, maybe after a full night of sleep and a shower, I was more receptive to its charms than while tired and cranky after a long day of work.


Anonymous jesse said...

This comment is way late, but I'm really puzzled by the Ziegfeld thing, once again. Was it you or someone else on the Wells blog that said that the 10PM opening-night showing of Hairspray was sold out? I feel like the Ziegfeld has often listed shows as sold out when they're at about three-quarters capacity and I don't get it. I heard some friends of friends got sold out of opening-night Pirates 3 there, and the theater was absolutely not more than 75% full.

As you said, a half-full Ziegfeld is still way more people than most theaters, but is it really possible that "sold out" has so many empty seats? I've been there for tons of opening night shows and *never* seen even close to every seat taken.

9:13 PM  

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