After gaining critical acclaim and scooping up a number of Tony awards back in 2003 when it first opened, Paul Kerryson and the team behind the new Hairspray UK tour have clearly worked tirelessly to assemble a multi-talented cast of actors, dancers and singers that bring this colourful musical to toe-tapping life.
Ever-relevant, many of the themes sadly still ring true. As addressed in the programme note from Mark Goucher, we are still seeing these prejudices first hand today. Following the story of one gutsy teenager, Tracy Turnblad - who will stop at nothing to earn her place on The Corny Collins Show - she comes face to face with the abhorrent prejudices of the time.
Rebecca Mendoza delivered a sparkling performance as Tracy, whilst her geeky best friend Penny (played by Annalise Liard-Bailey) was every bit the part. When joined by Aimee Moore as Amber Von Tussle, the trio shone in Mama, I'm A Big Girl Now.
Played by many iconic actors, Edna Turnblad is a role you can't easily forget. Matt Rixon pitched his performance perfectly. He brought the character remarkably to life and paired with Norman Pace (of Hale and Pace), their endearing performance of You're Timeless To Me, melted hearts in the audience.
There were standout performances throughout and it was evident that there was not one weak link. From Layton Williams’s suave, snake-hipped Seaweed to Jon Tsouras’s Corny Collins and Edward Chitticks’s Elvis-inspired Link Larkin – they brought the delightful cast of characters to life.
The trio of Lauren Concannon, Melissa Nettleford and Emily-Mae as the Dynamites was an absolute triumph. Incredible talent amongst the three of them, they lit up the stage in Welcome to the 60s. The ladies reigned supreme in this production with a stunning performance from Gina Murphy as the bigoted Velma Von Tussle. However, it was Brenda Edwards as Motormouth Maybelle, who blew the audience away with her breath-taking vocals and unwavering sassiness.
With a psychedelic set that instantly transported you to the swinging 60s and an on-stage orchestra who played the score to perfection, Hairspray is a hair-raising hit with a beautiful message at its heart. 'Strive for greater tolerance'. Go see it while you can.
Plays until Saturday at Birmingham Hippodrome.
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