Image courtesy of Ellie Kurttz.
On Monday February 22 the Playhouse theatre welcomed the Hairspray national tour to its stage, a brilliantly fun musical that is impossible not to enjoy so long as the the cast and creators do the classic story justice. Hairspray was colourful and bright in its illustration of the tale of the overweight Tracy Turnblad trying her luck at becoming a dancer on The Corny Collins Show, the local TV pop broadcast. Our heroine then makes a stand against racism and discrimination as she, along with a group of young people in 1960s Baltimore, fight for an end to segregation on Corny’s show.
The Playhouse was fully packed with a mix of young and old theatre-goers, all generations roaring in joint laughter throughout the performance. It was a fresh and vivid production; the characters were perfectly cast, in particular Tony Maudsley and Peter Duncan as Edna and Wilbur Turnblad. Their rendition of ‘Timeless to Me’ was the highlight of the show and resulted in synchronised snorts of laughter that could be heard throughout the theatre. Maudsley’s deep voice was perfectly utilised for the creation of an entertaining performance whilst his mannerisms complimented the role hilariously.
Brenda Edwards catapulted the show to glory with her incredible vocals, belting out ‘I Know Where I’ve Been’ as the appropriately named Motormouth Maybelle. Freya Sutton delivered a bright and refreshing Tracy Turnblad, and Lauren Stroud as Amber Von Tussle was the perfect amount of pouty and whiny. The supporting cast provided a brilliant show with great movement and dancing, while Dex Lee and Monique Young, as Seaweed and Penny, gave a funny and heart-warming demonstration of a young love which exemplifies the harmony of racial integration. Drew McOnie’s dance choreography was truly enchanting and elevated the entire production; the dancing was fun and light-hearted, and the male dancers’ acrobatics wowed the audience.
The set was fairly basic, typical of a touring production; however, props and levels were used cleverly to create some fantastically visual scenes. Set changeovers were smooth and impressive. Possibly one of the most brilliant visual aspects of the play was the costumes, created by Takis. Sparkles, glitter and boldly coloured suits took the audience on an aesthetic rollercoaster, truly heightening the overall theatrical experience.
Hairspray is a must-see production; a fantastic show with tightly disciplined routines and powerhouse performances all round. The cast have a contagious enthusiasm and it was clear to see that they enjoyed the show as much as the audience. Warm and upbeat, this is a show that will leave you exiting the theatre grinning broadly.