Good Morning Baltimore! as Blue Coat School in Coventry wake up to their week run of the legendary hit musical Hairspray! The tale of a young girl who just wants equality, friendship, the hottest kid in town and to dance on live TV! It is a story that strikes all the chords just in the right places and Blue Coat’s production is no different.
The underlying struggle in the musical is the historic racism that existed in the US during the black civil rights movement. There are several moments in the musical which remind you about the real figures involved – a rather striking line by Little Inez (Natalia During) ‘like that Rosa Parks on the Bus’ really reminds you of the tone this musical comes with and the cast and creative have dealt with this through maturity and professionalism. One character that personifies this struggle and hope is Motormouth Mabel – the mother like figure to the black community. Tenishia Prah provided an emotional performance as Motormouth which climaxed during her solo I Know Where I've Been. Alongside Tenishia Prah, Max Edwards also graced the stage with professionalism as Corny Collins, a character who really drove the story.
The strength of the piece relies on Olivia Evans who led the piece well as the fiesty, hairsprayed-bopping Tracey Turnblad with some great moments and a strong chemistry with her on stage romantic interest Elliot Barker as Link. Likewise, Oliver Briers and Joseph Edwards brought a strong comedic presence to the stage as Wilber and Edna. One other special mention is deserved to Arthur Page who made a split second - but utterly hilarious - performance as Mr Pinky.
Other standout performances have to go to Pheobe Downing as the innocent Penny, Stephen Wanjohi as the slick and smooth SeaWeed Stubbs – notably a strong characterized chemistry existed between the two of them which worked well during the shows hit love ballad Without Love. Finally, Chloe Cuckson bought a brilliant character to the antagonist Velma Vontussle and her voice impressed during Ms Baltimore Crabs.
Laurence T-Stannard’s musical direction was slick, professional and a mirror of the soundtrack. The performance from the student band was a treat for the ears and the fact that they were led by a student is simply inspiring. The band were the absolute climax of this production and their on-stage presence added to the space. Kaur Dhaliwal’s set design was intricate and set the scene well.
Corey Baker Wyatt's lighting design added a real vibrancy and colour to the stage especially noticeable during larger numbers like Big Doll House and You Can't Stop The Beat which included a classic confetti canon ending – a nice touch.
I must also add that the programme design itself was a real treat whilst writing the review- full of photos of rehearsals and a very high quality design it gives the production a professional feel.
You can't stop these teenagers this week at Blue Coat so be the Nicest kid in town and grab tickets!
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