Mamma Mia! vs. Hairspray

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Difference between Mamma Mia and Hairspray

Mamma Mia! is a stage musical that while it has been adapted into a film, is currently being performed onstage around the world. Based on songs by the 70s and early 80s musical group ABBA, the musical was developed with assistance of two of the members of the group. Over ten ABBA songs are played in the musical.

Hairspray is a film that has been adapted into a musical and is currently being performed onstage in cities around the world. The film was written by John Waters and based in the early 60s, Baltimore. Its theme was integration and acceptance regardless of color or size.

Mamma Mia

Film Version of Mamma Mia! and Hairspray

Mamma Mia! The Movie was released in 2008, starring Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard, and Amanda Seyfried. Mamma Mia! grossed more money worldwide than any other musical even though it opened to mixed reviews. Mamma Mia! was filmed on Skopelos, a petite Greek island, and Damouchari, Greece.

Hairspray was originally released in 1988, starring Sonny Bono, Ruth Brown, Divine and Ricki Lake. After a successful transition to theatre, the movie was remade in 2007 with a new cast including Michelle Pfeiffer, John Travolta, Christopher Walken, Queen Latifah, and Nikki Blonsky. Both films were critically acclaimed and financially successful.

Theatrical Version of Mamma Mia! and Hairspray

Mamma Mia! was the brainchild of Judy Craymer; written by Catherine Johnson, and directed by Phyllida Lloyd. While it is odd for a collaboration of women only to produce such a successful show, but they brought the musical to life magically. Mamma Mia! the musical opened in the spring of 1999 in London and has been playing ever since. Mamma Mia! was the longest running Broadway musical to ever play in Las Vegas. Mamma Mia! opened in New York’s Winter Garden in 2001 and is still playing.

Hairspray the film was adapted into a theatrical musical production over 10 years after the original film opened. The musical opened in 2002 on Broadway and featured original songs written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. The musical maintained the tradition of casting a male actor as Edna Turnblad and also kept the storyline the same. In spite of some discussion that the integration theme was sad and moralizing, the show was a critical success.

Awards and Response to Mamma Mia! and Hairspray

Mamma Mia! has enjoyed global success and a loyal following. Despite the feeling by some that the show is campy and silly, it received nominations by Golden Globes and BAFTA for the movie adaptation. The theatrical version has been nominated for Best Musical, Best Actress in a Musical by the Olivier Awards. Jenny Galloway won the Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2000.

Hairspray was nominated for awards both theatrical and film. The movie version won awards by MTV, Hollywood Film Festival & Hollywood Awards and the Critics' Choice Awards. The musical has won Tony, Drama Desk, Theatre World, Critics' Circle Theatre, Olivier, and Evening Standard Awards too numerous to mention each.

Similarities and Differences

  • Mamma Mia! and Hairspray are both critically acclaimed musicals and films. Mamma Mia! tells a story of a young girl about to be married and searching for the true identity of her father. Living on a Greek island with her mother who owns a bar, the young girl wishes for nothing more than to have her father walk her down the aisle. Based on songs from the popular band ABBA, Mamma Mia! is one of the best musicals ever produced in terms of critical and financial success.
  • Hairspray is set in the 1960s Baltimore. The racial turmoil was at a boiling point and Hairspray tells a story of acceptance and determination as the young overweight Tracy fulfills her dream of dancing on a popular television dance program and wins the hearts of the community. When Tracy tries to bring her black friends onto the program, everyone learns a lesson about racial segregation.


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