John Waters' engaging 1988 film Hairspray received a musical comedy makeover in 2002 that became a bona fide Broadway hit. The original cast album immediately reveals the foundation of the show's success through its winning combination of clever lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, a bouncy rock & roll sound courtesy of composer Marc Shaiman, and dynamic performances by the entire cast. Composer Shaiman, who also composed the music for another genuinely funny (movie) musical, South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, gives his music a boundless energy that works both as knowing '60s pastiche and solidly effective musical comedy scoring. As heroine Tracy Turnblad, Marissa Jaret Winokur's bubbly vocals light up numbers like the opening "Good Morning, Baltimore" and "I Can Hear the Bells," while Linda Hart gives a sneeringly funny performance of "Miss Baltimore Crabs." Other standout numbers include the Dick Latessa and Harvey Fierstein duet "(You're) Timeless to Me" and the penultimate number, "Cooties" (which boasts lyrics like: "Grew up in a cootie zoo/I bet her two-ton mama's/Got 'em too!"). It's fun, it's catchy, it's funny -- it's one of the best comic musical albums since Little Shop of Horrors. Oh, and make sure not to skip the bonus track.
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AllMusic Review by Neil Shurley
|Hairspray, musical play|