So last night I was whisked away to Baltimore in 1962 for Hairspray the Musical, to meet Tracy Turnblad, who 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 heart-throb Link Larkin along the way.
The stage musical is based on the 1988 film of the same name which starred Divine and Ricki Lake by cult filmmaker John Waters.
With fantastic, toe-tapping, music from Marc Shaiman and choreography from Drew McOnie, Hairspray is certainly a show that is packed with excitement that will give you a great night out.
The set design works very well for the many locations that are used in the musical’s story, including the Corny Colins TV Show with the live band on stage at the rear top of the stage, the great use of lighting certainly adds to the feel of the show and you soon find yourself in 1962, Baltimore.
Hairspray the Musical, Baltimore 1962
For me the star of Hairspray has to be Freya Sutton who plays Tracy Turblad, she has the role in the bag, Freya has played Tracy on the show before in the last UK tour and she certainly brings the character to life on the stage, a pure delight to watch and to listen to.
Matt Rixen was also a joy to watch as Tracy’s mother, Edna Turnblad, then the last member of the Turnblad family, Wilbur, played by none other than ex-Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan. Peter was brilliant as Wilbur the loving father that wants the best for his little girl and his family.
So as Tracy Turnblad follows here dreams to dance onto TV there is the confrontation from Velma Von Tussle (played by Claire Sweeney), a character that wants the girls on the show perfect and pushes her daughter Amber (played by Lauren Stroud) to be the star.
Add to this the story of colour equality on TV in the 60s when Tracy meets Seaweed (played by Dex Lee) during another detention in school and then Motormouth Maybelle (played by Aiesha Pease), this leads to Tracy wanting to get her new friends on to the TV with her on the same show, something unheard of in the 60s, which doesn’t go down well with the Corny Collins Show producer Velma Von Tussle.
Claire Sweeney certainly plays Velma Von Tussle well, including a Baltimore accent, her stage time is memorable as Von Tussle tries to stop the plans for Tracy from living her dreams and bring the “minority” onto the show, with some rather comical moments.
All the cast work well together and Hairspray is a musical that you really don’t want to miss, specially if you have seen and loved the original 1988 movie, the overall production of Hairspray the Musical at Venue Cymru is one that I couldn’t really fault and with a standing ovation from the audience certainly shows that it was an evening that everyone enjoyed.
Hairspray is produced by Mark Goucher and Laurence Myers, Tom O’Connell Productions Ltd., Just for Laughs Theatricals, Gale King Productions, Gary Brown and Curve theatre, Leicester.
Tickets available now from the Venue Cymru website and the Box Office 01492 872000The show is on now until the 16th April.