Following on their trend of annual live performances that previously brought us “The Sound of Music,” “Peter Pan,” and last year “The Wiz,” NBC is set to try their hand again this year with the 60’s era musical “Hairspray.” However those who don’t know the storyline, may choose to take a pass on this year’s production, deciding the campy musical may be a little over the top. If they take a pass, they’ll miss a show that’s as relevant today as it was when it was first introduced in the 1980’s.

The relevance of the musical to today’s political climate is one thing the multiple generational cast agrees on.

“I think the timing is right to be able to deliver a message like this,” cast member Jennifer Hudson told Billboard. “That’s why a story like Hairspray is still around, because it is speaking of real things, and real things are timeless. I hope that this will continue to make a change through art.”

So what’s the premise behind hairspray? It’s a social commentary on many of the injustices in American in the 60’s, however the same injustices still exist today. On the surface, the story is about Tracy Turnblad, an overweight teenager with surprisingly liberal views, a lower-class family background, and a dream to be a local television star – specifically as a dancer on The Corny Collins Show.

Beyond Turnblad fulfilling her dream despite her weight, gender and class, the show is also about the ridiculousness of racism. The race aspect is initially super obvious. It’s literally a show about the integration of a formally segregated dance show in 1962 Baltimore. “Negroes” are only allowed on the show one-day per month and then that day gets cancelled.

Of course the show includes the local racist, a not so nice character, who is surprisingly an attractive woman, rather than the usual racist white male stereotype. Hudson plays Motormouth Maybelle, the host of “Negro Day” on the dance show. After the day is cancelled, Maybelle leads the Black community in a peaceful protest of the segregation on Baltimore’s channels.

There are a lot of twists in the plot along the way, but in the simplistic and happily ever after ending of the show, the full cast joins in a big production number and song about how the tide of progress towards equality will not be stopped.

While the storyline delivers strongly on the message, “why can’t we all just get along,” it’s probably not the mind changing event cast member Maddie Baillio, hopes for.

“I hope that maybe someone who is flipping through the channels and they stop on Hairspray — If they don’t believe in equality for all and they don’t have a lot of love in their hearts, I hope we can change the world and change their minds,” says Baillio, the newcomer who plays the lead role of Tracy Turnblad.

However, the show will definitely highlight how in 2016, 50 years after the shows identified period, there’s still work to be done.

Tune in to “Hairspray Live!” on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 8 p.m. CT on NBC, and catch stars Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes on the “Countdown to Hairspray Live!” before the live broadcast at 6:30 p.m. CT.

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