Our View: Musical offers more than entertainment

Published 9:00 am Monday, August 21, 2017

An age-old debate has centered on whether “art imitates life,” a philosophy supported by Aristotle and others, or if in fact “life imitates art,” a concept championed by Oscar Wilde and others.

The answer is probably both.

Regardless, it is indisputable that our entertainment, our arts and culture, and our creative works can have a profound impact on the world around us.  The best of these do so long after they are created.

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“Hairspray” is a perfect example and, although it could have never been planned this way, the timing is perfect for the production at Leeds Center for the Arts.

Based on the 1988 film by John Waters that has since been adapted into a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical and a more mainstream film remake, “Hairspray” provides powerful commentary on social issues including stereotypes, body shaming and racism in America.

The musical may be set in the 1960s but its message is just as relevant today, perhaps even more so as our country is in some ways regressing when it comes to equality, acceptance and freedom.

Many lessons can be learned from main character Tracy Turnblad, a self-described “pleasantly plump” teen who doesn’t fit the mold of the dancers on her favorite show, “The Corny Collins Show.” Tracy follows her dreams, setting positive examples when it comes to self-belief, self-esteem and fighting for racial equality on the segregated show.

In light of recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, and across the country, this message is more important than ever.

“Hairspray” got off to a great start last weekend and will return at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets range from $15-$20.

Whether it is “art imitating life” or “life imitating art,” there important lessons that can be learned while enjoying some family-friendly entertainment this weekend right here in Winchester.