Review: Hairspray

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IT’S 1962 and all teenager Tracy Turnblad wants is to join the crew of dancers on TV’s Corny Collins Show. She’s a great mover, but producer and former beauty queen Velma Von Tussle doesn’t want her - Tracy has puppy fat. From a rather large puppy.

But a plan hatched by detention pal Seaweed sees her make the grade. That’s where her dream is supplanted by a bigger one, to end the token monthly ‘Negro Day’ and make the show fully integrated - blacks, white and any other colour, shape or size dancing together.

And she does it, with the help of friends, family and brilliant number after brilliant number. From the opening Good Morning Baltimore to the closing You Can’t Stop the Beat via the hilarious Miss Baltimore Crabs and sweet Without Love, Hairspray doesn’t let up for a minute.

First-rate doesn’t begun to describe a cast with so much talent and chemistry someone should turn them into a permanent company. Freya Sutton is dynamite as Tracy, while Brenda Edwards has soul to spare as DJ Motormouth Maybelle and Claire Sweeney shows a too-rarely tapped comic talent as Velma... keep an eye on her during the closing number.

Understudy Natasha Mould steps up to play Tracy’s awkward pal Penny Pingleton and proves a firecracker, while onstage boyfriend Seaweed certainly has ‘the motion of the ocean’.

Then there’s Peter Duncan and Tony Maudsley as Tracy’s parents, Wlbur and Edna. Benidorm’s Maudsley plays the drag straight - by not winking at the audience, he makes the lardy laundress all the funnier. And Duncan’s status as a song and dance man who happens to be a fine clown helps make Wilbur’s already charming duet with Edna, You’re Timeless to Me, the surprise showstopper.

Director Paul Kerryson has shepherded a terrific production here, worthy of the standing ovation it receives.

The set could be a little more, well, more, but the costumes, storytelling, production numbers, ensemble and band are all outstanding... this is a Hairspray that will have a hold on you.

Runs until Saturday