If you order a Big Mac in McDonald’s in Moscow the chances are it will taste exactly the same as the one you ordered on the London Road in Brighton. Similarly I’m sure this production of Hairspray is very similar to the one in London or South Africa, Japan, South Korea, China or Dubai. Modern day theatre has unfortunately become franchised with actors and dancers doing the same choreography, delivering lines in the same manner and shamelessly and unnecessarily adding cod corpses during the same song.
Hopefully throughout the Rest of the World the burger comes with extra pickles or sauce because the hard working cast in this version are horribly let down by very disappointing production standards. The set is dreadful and the irritating projections simply fail to recreate Baltimore in 1962.
Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, is on a mission to follow her dreams and dance her way onto national TV. Tracy’s audition makes her a local star and soon she is using her new-found fame to fight for equality, bagging local heartthrob Link Larkin along the way.
Katie Brice as Tracy and making her professional debut is excellent and the show actually gets off to a very strong start with her belting out one of the best numbers, Good Morning Baltimore and Rebecca Jayne-Davies steals the show completely as Tracy’s best friend, Penny Pingleton. She gets most of her laughs by portraying the character subtlety – something other members of the cast might want to make a note of although Paul Kerryson’s heavy-handed direction doesn’t help. Conversely, Alex Bourne gives a lacklustre performance in the role of Tracy’s mother but there is strong support from Brenda Edwards as Motormouth Maybelle, Rebecca Thornhill as Velma Von Tussle and in particular, Charlotte St Croix as Little Ines.
Hairspray attempts to deal with some fairly weighty subjects like racism, sexism and body image in a playful romp but as a social statement – which it wants to be – it’s more animation than a comment on discrimination.
Reviewer: Patric Kearns