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Sunday December 15th 2019

Hairspray | 2007

Hairspray (2007) filming location: Eastern Avenue, Studio District, Toronto
Hairspray location: Wilbur Turnblad's 'Hardy Har Hut': Eastern Avenue, Studio District, Toronto

John Waters’ 1988 classic of bad taste was turned into a successful stage musical and, in that form, returns to the big screen.

John Travolta slips into the mules of the much-missed Divine (although he requires a fat suit), but one important element is missing – Baltimore.

Despite the opening hymn of praise to the ‘Hairdo Capital of the World’, the film was made entirely in Toronto, Ontario.

Hairspray (2007) filming location: Eastern Avenue, Studio District, Toronto
Hairspray location: Wilbur Turnblad's 'Hardy Har Hut': Eastern Avenue, Studio District, Toronto

The home of dance-crazy Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) above the Hardy Har Hut joke shop run by her father Wilbur (Christopher Walken), is Gale’s Snack Bar, 539 Eastern Avenue at Carlaw Avenue in the Studio District, east of Downtown. That delightful stone cladding was added for the film but, inexplicably, the owners of the property have seen fit to remove it.

Hairspray (2007) filming location: Dundas Street West, Roncesvalles, Toronto
Hairspray location: 'Good morning, Baltimore': Dundas Street West, Roncesvalles, Toronto

Most of the local neighbourhood scenes, including Tracy’s journey to school, were filmed on a stretch of Dundas Street West at the junction with Roncesvalles Avenue, to the west of the city, where storefronts were dressed as 1962.

The musical gets the seal of approval from the director of the original film as John Waters himself puts in a cameo as the flasher.

Hairspray (2007) filming location: Dundas Street West, Roncesvalles, Toronto
Hairspray location: 'Mr Pinky's Hefty Hideaway': Dundas Street West, Roncesvalles, Toronto

This is also where you’ll find the establishment that was transformed into dress-shop ‘Mr Pinky’s Hefty Hideaway’. Believe it or not, behind the elaborate frontage is the Starbucks coffee bar at 2201 Dundas Street West.
Mr Pinky is played by Jerry Stiller (father of Ben Stiller), who played Wilbur Turnblad in the 1988 film.

Hairspray (2007) filming location: Dundas Street West, Roncesvalles, Toronto
Hairspray location: 'Welcome to the Sixties': Dundas Street West, Roncesvalles, Toronto

It’s on the stretch of Dundas Street opposite Starbucks that the big Welcome to the Sixties number is staged.

Hairspray (2007) filming location: Lord Lansdowne Public School, Toronto
Hairspray location: 'Patterson Park High School': Lord Lansdowne Public School, Toronto

‘Patterson Park High School’ where, during the era of segregation, Tracy gets to mix with the cool black kids in detention, is Lord Lansdowne Public School, 33 Robert Street, just west of the University of Toronto campus. To appreciate the 1961 building’s circular ‘merry-go-round, form fully, you need to see the aerial view on Google Maps.

Hairspray (2007) filming location: Lakeview Restaurant, Dundas Street West, Toronto
Hairspray location: Edna and Tracy encounter Velma Von Tussle: Lakeview Restaurant, Dundas Street West, Toronto

Toronto’s landmark Lakeview Restaurant,, 1132 Dundas Street West, puts in yet another screen appearance as the diner in which Tracy and Edna tuck into pie after their makeover, only to run into the obnoxious Velma Von Tussle (Michelle Pfeiffer).

This wonderful 1932 art deco eaterie has been a regular on screen, in features such as 1988’s Cocktail, with Tom Cruise, cult favourite The Boondock Saints and Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar-winning The Shape of Water.

Disappointingly, one location has disappeared. The ‘WYZT’ television studio, home of The Corny Collins Show, was a factory on Howland Street at Dupont Avenue in The Annex, which has since been demolished. You can still, though, see the rail bridge under which the anti-segregation protesters march, just to the north on Howland.