HAIRSPRAY (John Waters) Rating: NNNN
When William Blake wrote that "the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom," he anticipated the work of John Waters. In this 1988 hit, playing under the stars for free at Harbourfront Centre, Waters moved from lobster-raping coprophagy to multiplex legitimacy but managed to hold on to the sense of glorious overkill that fuelled his earlier, more repulsive work and earned him the title of Prince of Puke.
He also holds on to his love of outsiders and underdogs, represented here by the adorable, 60s-dance-hall-segregation-battling Tracy Turnblad (Ricki Lake) and her mom (the divine Divine, who also spends several memorable scenes in male drag). Sonny Bono is in evidence, and Ric Ocasek and Pia Zadora play beatniks. Everybody dances, declaims, swans around in outrageous hairdos. Why doesn't someone make a mega-musical out of this? (July 7, Harbourfront)