1. “The Nicest Kids in Town”/”You Can’t Stop the Beat”
Jerry Mitchell choreographed the original 2002 Broadway production—and earned a Tony nomination for it. He brought the fierceness out in the first number on WZZT’s set that introduced audiences to The Corny Collins Show. And we were overjoyed to see much of the original choreography of “You Can’t Stop the Beat.” The numbers also hit the spot visually—even on a sound stage. The space that can often feel cacophonous or faux on a live broadcast functioned best during these scenes with the live audience.
2. Extra Dance Breaks
Where there is dancing, there is happiness. One of the great things about casting Derek Hough is that Corny Collins isn’t just a singing host, he’s a Grade-A dancer. His moves in “Ladies’ Choice” made that number from the 2007 movie musical explode with energy. We were on board. Another welcome addition: the cool jazz dance break added to Ephraim Sykes’ solo as Seaweed, “Run and Tell That.” Any reason to watch Sykes dance more is a good reason.
It makes you want to just ask, “What the actual heck?” How does she do that? Jennifer Hudson showed us how it’s done when she filled the entire backlot with her sass and sound in “Big, Blonde and Beautiful,” but then she left us speechless with her unparalleled rendition of “I Know Where I’ve Been.” Thank goodness a commercial break came right after—so we had time to rewind and re-watch and relive.
4. The Costumes
Emmy-nominated costume designer Mary E. Vogt provided the vibrance that Hairspray needs. The colors popped off the screen, the fabrics shimmered and shone. From Edna and Tracy’s incredible dresses by Mr. Pinky (Can we bring that psychedelic print back?) to Motormouth’s gold bell-sleeved Lycra jumpsuit, from Corny’s glittering blazers to The Dynamites’ sequined dresses, the costumes added the va va voom to the broadcast.
5. Standout performances
It was incredibly special to watch Harvey Fierstein reprise his Tony-winning role as Edna Turnblad. The man is a genius of comedic timing and line readings. His partner-in-crime, Martin Short as Wilbur, was an inspired choice. Short played perfectly eccentric, and he surprised with his singing in “(You’re) Timeless to Me.” Kristin Chenoweth nailed Velma Von Tussle, bringing out all the weapons in her arsenal: comedic timing, operatic prowess and strong belt, and that X-Factor. Dove Cameron was delightfully snide as mean girl Amber. Last but not least, Maddie Baillio earned her spot as Tracy (hello option up on “And ’till DEATH do us part” in “I Can Hear the Bells”). She charmed as the girl with a big heart and big dreams.