Attention, theater geeks: If you can find it in your heart to pause The Hamilton Mixtape for a minute, there’s another album we should probably discuss.
Masterworks Broadway on Thursday night released the official cast recording of Hairspray Live!, nearly a full week before the NBC musical’s Dec. 7 broadcast — which is good, because we’ll need all that extra time to dig through what is turning out to be a treasure trove of surprises and wonderment. (I promise, even the most die-hard Hairspray fans are in for a few shocks.)
Below are just a few of my personal observations from the album’s 19 tracks:
* Derek Hough can sing! You’d think I’d know better than to doubt the pipes of a Hough, especially after Julianne’s killer performance in Grease: Live, but I’m just not that evolved. So imagine my delight upon hearing Derek’s rock-solid performance of “The Nicest Kids in Town,” “(It’s) Hairspray” and…
* “Ladies’ Choice” is no longer a Link Larkin number. The song — originally written for the 2007 film, in which Zac Efron played Link — is now performed by Hough’s Corny Collins. When asked for the reason behind the switch, Garrett Clayton (Live!‘s Link) had only this to say:
* Dove Cameron’s got soul. Having seen (and heard) her work on Disney Channel’s Liv and Maddie and Descendants, I knew Cameron (aka Live!‘s Amber) could sing. But she displays a level of sass and strength on the soundtrack, particularly on “Cooties,” that prove she’s truly a musical force to be reckoned with.
* Sean Hayes gets welcomed to the ’60s! No, your ears aren’t deceiving you. That really is Hayes — as integrative boutique owner Mr. Pinky — lending his pipes to the Tracy/Edna classic “Welcome to the ’60s.” Fun!
* Maddie Baillio is a damn star. Ironically — or perhaps intentionally — the least-known actress in the Hairspray Live! cast is also likely to be the most talked-about. If her live performance features even half of the incredible vocals and infectious energy of her work on the soundtrack, she’ll easily be in the running for America’s favorite Tracy (which, as you know, is a bloodbath).
* Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson are a dream team. We’re all aware of the talent possessed by these queens — Grande as Penny and Hudson as Motormouth Maybelle — but it’s still worth noting that their performance of “Come So Far (Got So Far to Go),” another song originally written for the 2007 film, is among the soundtrack’s finest.
I could go on about this album for days — it goes without saying that Kristin Chenoweth takes every opportunity to sing her tiny face off — but I’d rather hear from you now. Give it a listen (via Spotify) below, then drop a comment with your thoughts.