Hairspray - Musical ☆☆☆☆4
Showing from - Monday, October 19, 2015 through till Saturday, October 24, 2015
Hull New Theatre - Kingston-upon-Hull
Jackie Foottit | Monday, October 19, 2015
WHAT do you want first - the absolutely phantasmagorical good news or the bad news?
The bad news? Okay, here it is – the show was 15 minutes late starting, with no explanation forthcoming. The absolutely phantasmagorical good news? The opening night of Hairspray at Hull’s New Theatre was, well, phantasmagorical!
This riotous explosion of energy boasted big names (Tony Maudsley of TV’s Benidorm fame as Edna Turnblad, The sell-out crowd was up on its feet for a good five minutesTV actress Claire Sweeney as Velma Von Tussle and much-loved Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan as Wilbur Turnblad), big voice (West End performer Brenda Edwards as Motormouth Maybelle) and a big girl (Freya Sutton as Tracy Turnblad).
The year is 1962 in an America where segregation – by skin colour - was the norm. Chubby, white, schoolgirl, Tracy, lives in Baltimore with her parents. While mum (an hilarious performance by Tony Maudsley) takes in laundry for a living and dad (a very energetic Peter Duncan) owns and runs the Har-De-Har joke shop, Tracy dreams of dancing on her favourite TV programme, The Corny Collins Show. Each week, Corny (a slick performance from Jon Tsouras) is on screen surrounded by slim, white dancers, but that doesn’t deter our Tracy from wanting to strut her sizeable stuff among them.
Egged on by her best friend, Penny (a comical Monique Young), Tracy gets to dance, despite being ridiculed by the show’s producer, Velma Von Tussle (Claire Sweeney with a convincing American accent). The insults only make Tracy more determined to win the show’s upcoming Miss Teenage Hairspray 1962 crown, going out live on The Corny Collins Spectacular – whose main advertiser is Ultra Clutch, the hairspray of the title. Being banned from the spectacular and a spell in solitary confinement in the “Big Doll House”, aka prison, only spurs our heroine on to, not only win the coveted crown, but to dance on live TV with her new friends (too numerous to name, but a more talented group you’ll not find anywhere) – who all happen to be black.
She’s a big girl with big hair and even bigger dreams (do they come true?). But it’s Tracy’s big heart that wins over the prejudiced “Baltimorons”. A super-talented cast brings such joy to proceedings, racial prejudice – a constant theme throughout – is given its marching orders. The brightly-lit stage and sequinned costumes both add sparkle; not forgetting sing-along numbers (accompanied by talented on-stage musicians) such as Good Morning Baltimore, You Can’t Stop The Beat and I Know Where I’ve Been (an unforgettable rendition by the aforementioned Brenda Edwards). At the glittering finale, the sell-out crowd was up on its feet for a good five minutes, clapping, singing and cheering.
And I wasn’t the only one shouting for (Balti)more!
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