Welcome to the 60s! Hairspray has rolled with great gusto into the Theatre Royal Brighton for two weeks, bringing toe tapping dance numbers, some fabulous vocals, wide smiles and VERY big hair.
Written by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, Hairspray tells the story of teenager Tracy Turnblad (Freya Sutton), whose wish comes true when she lands a job on Baltimore TV as one of the ‘Nicest Kids in Town’ on the Corny Collins Show. Despite not being popular with the other ‘nice kids’, the show’s venomous producer Velma Von Tussle (Claire Sweeney) and sponsor Ultra Clutch Hairspray, due to her plump size and her wish for racial intergration she soon becomes a local celebrity to the delight of her parents.
The role of Tracy’s Mum, Edna Turnblad is traditonally played in drag, this time it is the turn of Benidorm’s Tony Maudsley. I thoroughly enjoyed his portrayal. Maudsey portrays Edna as warmth and loving yet painfully self-concious, eventually being drawn out of her shell by the vibrant 60s and an even more vibrant daughter. Edna’s loving husband Wilbur is played by Peter Duncan (Birdsong, Barnum) and is the perfect casting, their rapport being palpable with their duet ‘You’re timeless to me‘ being true comedy gold and a highlight of the show.
Freya Sutton captures Tracy’s zest for life perfectly, her new friend Seaweed (Dex Lee) teaches her not only dance moves that set her apart but also that friendship comes in the most unlikely of places. Seaweed’s mother, Motormouth Maybelle is the host of the monthly “Negro Day” on The Corny Collins Show, here she is portrayed by powerhouse singer Brenda Edwards whose outstanding rendition of ‘I Know Where I’ve Been’ was superb.
The songs written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman are given jovial and energetic choreography by the talented Drew McOnie and the cast look as though they are having the time of their lives.
The tour of Hairspray is bright, bubbly and full of fun which keeps you smiling all the way home. If you are feeling the Christmas stress and need a break – a trip to the Theatre Royal Brighton this December may just be what you need.
Reviewer: Sammi O’Neill.
☆☆☆ Great fun – Recommended.
Hairspray runs at the Theatre Royal Brighton until the 12th December 2015.
Further tour dates
The Churchill Theatre, Bromley Tue 26 – Sat 30 April 2016