I love how her voice is what introduces us to the number. Michelle is so gorgeous, but her voice is what I remember most from her performances. Not even her singing voice (there’s no way she’d have been as brilliant as Catwoman without that voice of hers). And as we watch those dancing feet we drift into the opening bars of the number.
Velma (OS): “Back step, cha-cha-cha. Side step, front step.”
Velma: “Back and turn.”
There come Tracy and Penny to be taken down by our resident Queen...
Velma: “Front step, cha-cha-cha. Tammy, sharper. Side step, front step. Back, again”
Tracy: “Oh my god, Penny. There’s Link. Link. Penny, pinch me.”
Penny: “You told me to.”
Tracy (OS): “I can’t believe I’m really here auditioning.”
Penny (OS): “I can’t believe I’m really here watching you audition.”Velma’s intent focus here never fails to amuse me. Villain or no, she has astoundingly good work ethic.
Velma: “Front step, cha-cha-cha. Back step, cha-cha-cha.”Zac Efron, too, is at his best here. Because it’s such a satirical piece it gives the leads a chance to play the stereotypes in the most over-the-top of ways and Efron is a good comedian when given the chance. Case in point – his best moments in Hairspray happen when he has these random comedic bits, and not when he maintains his gauche characterisation as the romantic lead.
Velma: “Side step, front step. Back and t- Oh, Amber, look at this motley crew.”There’s little that’s deliberately funny about “Miss Baltimore Crabs” – it’s a performance number in every sense of the word and it depends on Pfeiffer’s expressions end enunciations. I love her expression above.
Velma: “Oh, this town sure has gone downhill since I was crowned Miss Baltimore Crabs.”
Brittney Snow is a lot of fun here, too. She’s another young actor who needs a good role. She’s such a good contrast and complement to Pfeiffer. Her youth is a perfect foil to Velma. It’s such a nice touch how as soon as Velma begins her quasi-monologue Amber (along with Link) being sighing. They’ve heard this one before
Velma: “♫ Oh, my God. How times have changed. These girls must be blind or completely deranged. ♫”I honestly wish they’d get a technical Oscar for choreography. It’s noting especially intricate, but it just works in the ensemble setting with Pfeiffer in the middle there. Just like there's an Oscar for specific song numbers, there should be one for specific dance numbers....but I am digressing.
Velma: “♫ But time seemed to halt, when I was Miss Baltimore Crabs. ♫”
There’s this slow nostalgic rhythm to the number and Michelle brings that out so excellently.
Velma: “Amber! That move is far too dirty.”
Amber: “Mother wake up from that dream of yours, this isn’t 1930.”
The rapport between the two work so well. Sure, Tracy/Edna are the important mother/daughter duo but Snow and Pfeiffer work excellently. It’s a real shame they excised the number “Mama, I’m A Big Girl Now” which would have been a nice showcase for the two.
Velma: “♫ You can laugh, but life’s a test. Don’t do this, don’t do that – remember, mother knows best. ♫”When she says that “mother knows best line” I get an immediately transference to Donna Murphy in Tangled – another brilliant, diabolical mother.
Velma: “♫ For the crown’s in the vault, from when I won Miss Baltimore Crabs. ♫”
Amber: “These steps are perfect ammunition.”
Velma: “♫Let me show you how your mommy dear took out the competition. ♫”
This leads into my favourite sequence of the number – which says a lot, because this entire number is just perfection.
Velma: “Girls, go get them. Boys, let’s rumba.”It’s strange, you don’t get the feeling that Velma is trying to be one of those older women trying to hold on to her youth, but in her sophistication she just seems especially youthful.
Velma: “♫1,2,3,4,5,6,7. Those poor runner-ups might still hold some grudges. They padded their cups, but I screwed the judges.♫”It’s so impossible to resist the humour Pfeiffer brings to this number. It’s one of the things about Hairspray – the characters, villains included, are laid out in black-and-white – but they have no qualms about making everyone seem as interesting as ever. And Pfeiffer brings that humour to Velma immediately.
Velma: “♫Those broads thought they’d win if a plate they would spin in their dance! Not a chance. ♫”
(What I wouldn’t give to trade places with that band of boys.)
Velma: “Boys, put me down. Oh, good morning ladies. Let’s see what you got.”On a side note, how did Hairspray not a get a nomination for its costumes. I love that blue dress on Velma, there.
All: “Twist, twist, twist, twist. Mashed potato, mambo.”
Velma: “Ready? Begin. ♫On my show you’ll never find, a thrusting hip or bump and grind.♫”(These lines are so ridiculous, but I love them.)
Amber: “What’s that? A dance for fleas and ticks?”She’s no Regina George, but Amber makes for a brilliant mean girl.
Velma: “♫Oh, you should-a seen my bag of tricks.♫”I love that recurring theme where every little things leads Velma into the memories of her days in the sun.
Velma: “♫Oh, I hit the stage batons ablaze, while belting Aida and preparing soufflés.♫”
Velma: “♫But that triple somersault is how I clinched Miss Baltimore Crabs.♫”...and then we segue into the actual memories.
Girl: “♫Are you scared we’re on live?♫”
Tracy: “♫Well, I’m sure I can cope.♫”
Amber: “♫Well this show isn’t broadcast in Cinemascope.♫”
Velma: “♫I never drank one chocolate malt, no desserts for Miss Baltimore Crabs.♫”
Amber: “♫This one will never get a date in those hand-me-down clothes.♫”(Poor girl.)
Velma: “♫Kid, she’ll never get a date ‘till Daddy buys her a new nose.♫”
Velma: “♫I would say, Oh, Gevalt if I wasn’t Miss Baltimore Crabs”.♫”
Amber: “♫Do you dance like you dress?♫”
Link: “Amber, there’s no need to be cruel.”
Velma: “♫Would you swim in an integrated pool?♫”
Tracy: “I sure would. I’m all for integration. It’s the new frontier!”This part always brings one of my biggest issues with the film to the forefront. Everyone seems against Tracy’s pro-black stance here and yet at the end they’re all happy to welcome Inez. But, I digress.
Velma: “Not in Baltimore it isn’t. And may I be frank?”
Velma: “♫First impressions can be tough but when I saw you I knew it. If your size weren’t enough your last answer just blew it.♫”
Velma: “♫And so my dear, so short and stout. You’ll never be in so we’re kicking you out.♫”
Velma: “♫With your form and your face. Aw well, it isn’t your fault. You’re just down with a case of Miss Baltimore Crabs.♫”
Velma: “Uh, you may go.”
Tracy: “Um...thank you?”
Penny: “I think they secretly liked you.”
And right there, one of the year's funniest scenes. How I miss Pfeiffer in the movies, even in these bit parts she's excellent. Are you a fan of Miss Baltimore Crabs?