December 11th, 2004

I Will Not Defame New Orleans.


I saw the traveling Broadway show which is gracing New Orlean's Saenger Theatre this week.

I realize many people (and most people who read me) are probably John Waters fans, and thus somewhat interested in the stage production, so here is my review.

Though I must say I wish to god Dorothy Parker was still alive because I'd like to read her review of this play. As homage, I will attempt to put words into her long-deceased mouth.

[Dorothy Parker's review of the musical stage version of the John Waters' film, "Hairspray."]
It is a mother's axiom: "If you can't say something nice…" With such stern instructions, I will tell you, Constant Reader, that the wardrobe and sets of "Hairspray" were really quite bully. But now that I think of it, my mother never placed such insipid and limiting restraints upon me. So I will further tell you: if you have a dinner date with in-laws or an ex-beau, if you have procrastinated in you knitting endeavors, or if your automobile needs a tire alignment, don't let "Hairspray" thwart these valiant projects. Your time will be much better spent in virtually any other occupation. Until about half way through act two, I could muster no other emotion in the theatre than one of vicarious embarrassment for dear Mr. Waters whose name ought be exaulted — whose oringal screenplay shall always be extolled. But to turn "Hairspray" the film into "Hairspray" the musical is a miracle tantamount to turning wine back to water. I began scribbling a new kind of Dear John letter on the back of the playbill: "Dear Mr. Waters, my sincerest condolences about the feel-good trainwreck of your work…" My regrets were aborted with the likely thought that Dear John signed the rights to his screenplay, and then, more importantly, signed the sizeable check he was presented with, and laughed, as they say, all the way to the bank. One can fairly hear him cackling in the wings, pointing to the sappy mischief occurring on-stage, whilst he moistly clings to said check, tears of absurd joy streaming his face, muttering, "The fools, the fools. But what of it!" For it is people who would write the stage version of Hairspray, and those who would enjoy the adaptation, that he is best at ridiculing. And so I nestled cozily back into my seat, nodding off for the rest of act two, striking another notch in Mr. Waters already prolific one-for-poetic-irony bedpost. Oh, and before I forget to mention it, there has never been written music more forgettable than the score to "Hairspray." Surely Divine is laughing from beyond the grave as well. That's laughing at, chickens, not with.