Perfectly coiffed to a nostalgic ‘60s bent, with a girlish sense of fun... but that’s enough about John Travolta’s gender-bending. At the height of go-go dancing and continent-sized hairdos, Hairspray’s heroine Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) gets a lucky break shaking it front and centre on The Corny Collins Show. But dubious TV agendas soon land her in the eye of an escalating race storm. Like its stage-to-screen cousin Dreamgirls, Hairspray tackles serious notions with a twinkly-eyed flamboyance. Moments of sentiment bring gravitas to the whimsical premise, while the catchy tunes are grounded by knowing lyrics that hit the bigger issues. Travolta’s gimmicky Mama Turnblad turn at times threatens to unbalance everything, but he’s nicely equalised by Blonsky’s charm. A flashy, breathless audio-visual banquet, Hairspray ensures that future musicals have mighty stilettos to fill. 


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