My first brush with John Waters was when I was reading up about Baltimore in the USA Rough Guide prior to moving here in 1998, and came across his quote:
I would never want to live anywhere but Baltimore. You can look far and wide, but you’ll never discover a stranger city with such extreme style. It’s as if every eccentric in the South decided to move north, ran out of gas in Baltimore, and decided to stay. ["Shock Value"]
So, I moved from a lot further south than he had in mind – the southern tip of Africa, in point of fact – but here I am. Yet I always felt a bit fraudulent living here because I had never experienced the iconic “Hairspray” in any shape or form. I was glad to be able to rectify that oversight at the Meyerhoff on Sunday when I went to the BSO’s concert version narrated by John Waters with his equally iconic, dry style. Even though my ears will never be the same (we classic music lovers tend to be wimps with our delicate hearing!) it is a story of great charm. And it was gratifying to learn that the show was not only nominated for thirteen Tonys on Broadway (winning eight), but it also received a record-setting eleven Laurence Olivier Awards in London (and won four). It’s good to know that our gritty city is not only known internationally for “Homicide, Life on the Street” and “The Wire” but that this feel-good, quirky show gets a look-in too.
Baltimore Symphony, Hairspray, John Waters