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Curiosities | The acclaimed musical adaptation “Hairspray” turns 15 in 2022!



Adaptations of acclaimed Broadway musicals often go both ways: either they succeed or they become a disaster of catastrophic proportions.

We have, for example, ‘Chicago’, the film version of which was released in 2002 and won over audiences, critics and won six Oscar statuettes, including Best Picture; on the other hand we have the bad attack ‘Nine’, whose production failed to capture the essence of the piece and even the classic ‘8 1/2’, by Federico Fellini, and wasted an excellent cast which included Daniel Day-Lewis, Sophia Loren, Penelope Cruz and several others.

Fortunately, the cinematic narrative of “Hairspray” has chosen the path of success, both commercially and critically. Launched in 2007, the production, directed by Adam Shankman, brought in elements from both John Waters’ original feature film and the theatrical version by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan.

The plot is set in the 1960s and follows Tracy Turnblad, a dance-loving Baltimore teenager who applies to appear on a local program called The Corny Collins Show and is accepted. Overnight, he becomes a celebrity and elevates his irreverent dance style on the show. The fact that he is popular is enough to end Corny’s reign and bring about racial integration.

Starring John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Amanda Bynes, Queen Latifah, Christopher Walken and newcomer Nikki Blonsky, the film was acclaimed and grossed over $203 million worldwide, making it one of the most successful musical adaptations of the century.

In 2022, the film celebrates 15 years since its release and, to celebrate it, we have prepared a short article separating some behind-the-scenes curiosities.

Enjoy watching:


Bynes’ character, Penny, is seen constantly sucking on lollipops. Bynes’ father, who is a dentist, was very concerned about her dental health, as she sucked around 40 lollipops a day. Bynes told him he wasn’t fully absorbing them when in fact he was. Much of the cast joked calling the song “You Can’t Stop the Beat” “you can’t stop breathing”, because of the frantic beat and verses. Latifah said he had no problem singing the song, given his experience as a rapper.

Legendary musician Aretha Franklin auditioned to play Motormouth Maybelle, but lost the role to Latifah. It took Travolta four hours to put on the Edna Turnblad costume, as well as the silicone facial prostheses, to transform into the character. Blonsky revealed in a mid-2007 interview with The Oprah Winfrey Show that when she first walked onto the set, Travolta told her “come see mom.”

Penny Pingleton’s dress in “You Can’t Stop the Beat” was made from curtains in her bedroom. It’s an homage to the iconic 1965 “The Sound of Music”. It wasn’t until halfway through the recordings that Pfeiffer realized the character he was playing was a racist. She was worried about what people would think of her, but Shankman reassured her. Pfeiffer and Walken were both cast at Travolta’s request.

Shankman offered the role of Link Larkin to Zac Efron after seeing him in “High School Musical.” According to the producers, the “hairspray” in the Ultra Clutch cans was actually a deodorant. Of several possibilities, this was the only one that caught the light and appeared on camera the way they wanted. Don’t forget to watch:

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