Dear John Waters, I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but figured that if you didn't hear it from me, someone else would tell you the tragedy that has befallen your beloved civil rights/self acceptance/ dancing musical masterpiece Hairspray. Are you sitting down? Good.
It seems that a Dallas, Texas-area children's theater has produced a new rendition of the hit movie/musical/movie, but has missed the point entirely. Rather than casting a chubby, vivacious girl to play the lead, they've cast a thin girl and padded their Tracy Turnblad to within an inch of her life. And rather than use any black people at all to play the parts of the characters that are supposed to be black, they've cast... white people.
According to the Dallas Observer's Elaine Liner, the Plano Children's Theater isn't a real theater per se; it's a pay-for-play type setup that allows parents to shell out $250 so their kids can spend a few more precious months inflating their egos to the point that their future American Idol auditions will earn them Youtube infamy. Upon hearing of the production's existence, she bought a ticket and attended a show. She writes,
Maybe they didn't know Seaweed and his soul-singing sister, Little Inez, are supposed to be African-American. Maybe they didn't care that Mother Maybelle, Seaweed's mother, was being played by a white girl in a curly blond wig singing this: "They say that white has might and thin is in/ Well, that's just bull 'cause ladies big is back/ And as for black, it's beautiful!"
Actually, it sounds like the play itself should live in YouTube infamy, and if any of the "proud parents and grandparents" present at the show took video, that will be future internet gold. But I digress.
After no black kids auditioned for the production, PCT had to write for special dispensation from Musical Theatre International, the company that owns the rights to Hairspray. So why would a theater company in Plano, Texas, a city that's only 8% black, think it was a good idea to perform a musical about black people and white people interacting and embracing each other?
Anyway, Mr. Waters, I just thought you should know that there's a group of kids out there who have successfully turned Hairspray into Girls Just Wanna Have Fun II: Electric Boogaloo. Casting this musical with all white kids is like remaking Pink Flamingos with Gwyneth Paltrow as Divine. It's just wrong. And not in a fun, let's-make-a-movie-about-how-weird-this-is way.
Someone who's got the bug