What the US theatre critics thought of Hairspray when it made its debut on Broadway in August 2002.
New York Times
Hairspray picked up eight Tony Awards
No-one expects a Broadway musical comedy to be in the vanguard of what is bohemian, raunchy, folkloric, academic or aggressively experimental. That is not its job. Its job is to synthesize musical and social traditions with high-styled vivacity, especially those that dwell on different sides of the tracks in real life. The highbrow meets the lowbrow; sweet meets hot; uptown, downtown, all around the town.
Hairspray fits right in.
In its stagecraft, Hairspray feels like an 80s show; it's modestly scaled and old-fashioned, visually driven by simple set pieces moved around by actors. Jerry Mitchell's choreography, sampling bits of the mashed potato and a host of other period manoeuvres, propels the action as well.
In one important respect, Hairspray outshines The Producers. Shaiman has provided some of the most infectious melodies to grace an original Broadway show in years, taking his cues from the incisive craftsmanship that bridged musical comedy's golden era and the age of hippie bombast. Exhilarating tunes such as Good Morning Baltimore, Welcome to the 60s and Run and Tell That recapture the soulful melodrama of Motown and Phil Spector, and the cast delivers them dazzlingly.
Los Angeles Times
Hairspray, which opened Thursday night after enough hype to power a nuclear sub, lifts the $10.5m adaptation of John Waters' bad-taste, good-values 1988 cult film into the must-see zone of transcendence.