Set in Baltimore circa 1962, HAIRSPRAY joyously details the last days of 50s-era American naivete, as the country moves from postwar complacency to massive social upheaval. Cult filmmaker John Waters enters the mainstream with surprisingly little fuss.

Caught up in all this is the "Corny Collins Show," a wildly popular Baltimore television dance program. The show's queen is the spoiled and snobbish Fitzpatrick, whose father, Bono, owns the "Tilted Acres" amusement park. Lake, an obese working-class teen, auditions for a spot on the show, against

the wishes of her mother, Divine, and she earns it because of her sensational dancing. The socially progressive teen begins to cause trouble, however, when she demands the segregated program be opened up to include the black teenagers of Baltimore.

Controversial filmmaker John Waters finally hits his commercial stride in this film, parlaying his keen social observation and great compassion for society's outsiders into a colorful and engaging comedy full of dancing, music and heartfelt nostalgia. Unfortunately, what should have been a

celebration turned into sadness when Waters's longtime friend and collaborator Divine, who was poised on the edge of stardom, died of a heart attack a mere two weeks after HAIRSPRAY opened nationwide.