4. "I Can Hear The Bells" from Hairspray
If the 1960s musicals Funny Girl and Hallelujah, Baby! put Jewish women and black women, respectively, front and center as the protagonists of a major musical, then Hairspray most definitely does that for plus-size women. Part of the beauty of Hairspray is that, together with the civil rights plotline — and the casting of a man as Edna Turnblad — the message is that we're all invited along for the ride. There's something universally empowering about underdog Tracy Turnblad getting the guy. Her hymn of positive thinking, with its infectious melody and fabulous, insightfully colloquial lyrics, completes Hairspray's trifecta of three out-and-out showstoppers in the first 20 minutes of the play.
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