Hairspray Has Brought Baltimore back to Venue Cymru – Review
WOW! Has it really been two years since the hit musical, Hairspray The Musical, was last at Venue Cymru in Llandudno!
So last night I was whisked back 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.
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 Collins 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 Rebecca Mendoza who plays Tracy Turnblad, she has the role in the bag, her key changes and performance throughout the night were a sheer joy to listen to and watch, joining her on stage was Matt Rixen who was also a joy to watch as Tracy’s mother, Edna Turnblad. It was great to see him again in the role that had me laughing so hard last time I saw the show.
Then the last member of the Turnblad family, Wilbur, played by none other Norman Pace. Norman was brilliant as Wilbur the loving father that wants the best for his little girl and his family, his comedic timing and faces were moments of pure comedy, the crowd were in roars of laughter when at one point, something just didn;t go to plan while he was performing with Matt and he bounced it back with in such a way that it just made the night even more entertaining.
So as Tracy Turnblad follows here dreams to dance onto TV there is the confrontation from Velma Von Tussle (played by Gina Murray), a character that wants the girls on the show perfect and pushes her daughter Amber (played by Aimee Moore) to be the star.
Add to this the story of colour equality on TV in the 60s when Tracy meets Seaweed (played by Layton Williams) during another detention in school and then Motormouth Maybelle (played by Brenda Edwards), 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.
Gina Murray 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, especially 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.
The 2018 tour of Hairspray Stars Matt Rixon (The Ladykillers, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) as Edna Turnblad, Norman Pace (Hale & Pace, Chicago) as Wilbur Turnblad, Brenda Edwards (The X Factor, Chicago, We Will Rock You) as Motormouth Maybelle, Layton Williams (Billy Elliot, Bad Education) as Seaweed, Gina Murray (Chicago, EastEnders) as Velma Von Tussle and introducing Rebecca Mendoza in her professional debut as Tracy Turnblad.
Featuring the iconic music and lyrics by Academy Award, Tony and Emmy winning duo Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, this big, bold and beautiful production is choreographed by Olivier Award-winning Drew McOnie with direction from Paul Kerryson.
This irresistible feel-good show is a perfect treat for all the family – let your hair down and book now!
Suffice to say that Hairspray the Musical brought the house down with the opening night of the show, the first performance had a full house standing ovation and riotous applause and whistles. This is a show that you really can’t miss for amazing night of music, dance, comedy and to see Norman Pace on the stage. GO SEE IT!!