19 user 3 critic

Hairspray Live! (2016)

0:31 | Trailer
A teenage girl living in Baltimore in the early 1960s dreams of appearing on a popular TV dance show.


Harvey Fierstein (teleplay by), Mark O'Donnell (book) | 3 more credits »
2,031 ( 164)
Won 3 Primetime Emmys. Another 11 nominations. See more awards »





Credited cast:
Dove Cameron ... Amber Von Tussle
Kristin Chenoweth ... Velma Von Tussle
Billy Eichner ... Rob Barker
Ariana Grande ... Penny Pingleton
Shahadi Wright Joseph ... Little Inez
Martin Short ... Wilbur Turnblad
Harvey Fierstein ... Edna Turnblad
Ricki Lake ... Pinkette
Andrea Martin ... Prudy Pingleton
Rosie O'Donnell ... Gym Teacher
Sean Hayes ... Mr. Pinky
Jennifer Hudson ... Motormouth Maybelle
Derek Hough ... Corny Collins
Garrett Clayton ... Link Larkin
Marissa Jaret Winokur ... Pinkette


Teenager Tracy Turnblad accomplishes her dream of becoming a regular on her favorite tv show, she sets off on a mission to integrate the all white tv show along the way she is confronted by the pro-segregation mother daughter duo Velma and Amber Von Tussle Written by JJ

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

live broadcast | See All (1) »


You can't stop the beat!


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

7 December 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hairspray Live! See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


In this version of Hairspray, the TV station that hosts The Corny Collins Show is WZZT. In the 2007 movie, the TV station is WYZT. See more »


When Tracie comes home to watch the Corny Collins show, she smacks the television and says "Philco" while the TV is actually a Muntz brand. See more »


Referenced in Good Morning Britain: Episode dated 8 December 2016 (2016) See more »


Run & Tell That
Music by Marc Shaiman
Lyrics Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman
Performed by Ephraim Sykes and Shahadi Wright Joseph
See more »

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User Reviews

Arguably the best of the live musical TV events
22 February 2017 | by mnpollioSee all my reviews

NBC and Fox seem to be leading the way with broadcasting live musical events and the results can be hit or miss. For every success like The Wiz, there is a misfire like The Sound of Music (is there any way to remove the horrid miscasting of Carrie Underwood in that debacle from our collective memories?). Shortly prior to the broadcast of Hairspray Live!, Fox completely stumbled with a dunderheaded effort of The Rocky Horror Show. Mercifully, Hairspray barely edges out The Wiz as a prime example of when things come together nicely.

By now most people know the story of the hit stage play and film focusing on chubby 1960s Baltimore-based teen Tracy Turnblad, whose dream of dancing on The Corny Collins Show, winning the heart of hottie Link Larkin, and championing the cause of integration for African-Americans, while taking on white Barbie nemesis Amber von Tussel and her monstrous mama Velma, producer of the very show that Tracy hopes to conquer.

The story is fun, the music by and large is bright and lively, and the production numbers veer between both personal and lavish. NBC does a creditable job of mounting a mammoth and rousing production. Although I am uncertain why they chose to omit the very funny production number The Big Dollhouse.

If there are any stumbles it comes in some quibbles in the casting. Maddie Baillio is an energetic Tracy and holds the center of the show together, but she is probably the least impressive singer/dancer of the Tracys that I have. Baillio's singing seems to take on a breathy air when notes become too strenuous for her - which is a bit too often. She does a lot of vocal straining here. Ditto, her dancing is mediocre at best, so when everyone in the cast keeps harping on what a great dancer she is, they come off a tad delusional.

Stage legend Harvey Fierstein returns to play Tracy's mom Edna, a rotund introvert forced out of the house by Tracy's popularity. I missed Fierstein on stage, but seeing him here I actually prefer John Travolta's more vulnerable take on the role in the film. Fierstein is amusing, but he cannot sing...at all. The majority of the lyrics to the songs are garbled by his trademark gravelly voice (let's be honest, Carol Channing has a gravelly voice, but she knows how to use it for effect and does not garble lyrics!) to the point where one feels like they are straining to make heads or tails of what he is saying. By contrast, Martin Short is a delight as the eternally upbeat Wilbur Turnblad.

Of the supporting cast, Garrett Clayton is a bit too bland and Ken Doll-ish as Link. Derek Hough is surprisingly strong as Corny Collins. Both Kristin Chenoweth and Dove Cameron hit all the right notes, both acting and singing-wise as the villainous Von Tussels. Cameos by performers as Rosie O'Donnell, Sean Hayes, and Ricki Lake actually seem pretty pointless.

The film's biggest misfire in my mind is the miscasting of Jennifer Hudson in the pivotal role of Motormouth Maybelle. Hudson sings well, but she is not much of an actress (fluke Oscar win included). One could best describe her efforts here as pleasant, but nothing disguises that she is all wrong for this part. Motormouth Maybelle is written as (and previously been played as) an older woman with weight issues. Watching the youthful and skinny Hudson sashay into the room, one is puzzled when she sings a song to Edna about how she has accepted her own "extra large largesse," because Hudson does not currently share any of these elements. One could get away with casting Queen Latifah in the part. One could even imagine the thrill of seeing an Aretha Franklin or Patti LaBelle play the role. But Hudson is completely wrong.

Still, for these quibbles, at the end of the day, this production largely succeeds because it is such a blast of good spirits and its message of fighting for a good cause and racial harmony seems more timely than ever in the Era of Trump Supporters.

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