Grand Opera House
until 15th June 2013
Wow! I’d heard Hairspray was a great show but I wasn’t prepared for this. At last, a well rounded leading lady proving big girls can be as sexy as their skinny mates, actually even more so as Tracy gets her man in the end leaving her barbie doll rival at home with mum.
So many highlights in this show with a deceptively deep storyline: Tracy Turnblad (Freya Sutton) wants to have black and white teenagers dancing and singing together on the The Corny Collins Television Show, a first for audiences in Baltimore in 1962 at a time of racial tensions. She also feels she might have a chance to win the Miss Hairspray competition because she wants to be famous.
Does she make it? Can she possibly achieve both ambitions? That and more.
This Be Bop show just dashes along at high speed and sweeps us along with it, the company take no prisoners, you just give in and go with the flow.
Having said that, our leading lady does end up in Baltimore Women’s House of Detention branded a ground breaking extremist and catching the eye of the Female Authority Figure played superbly by Wendy Somerville.
The characters are delightful especially Tracy’s mum and dad, Edna (Mark Benton) and Wilbur (Paul Rider) who make an hilarious double act, a masculine mum six feet tall and comic dad just coming up to her ample bosoms! There’s no doubt they are deeply in love and very proud of their little girl. Their duet ‘Timeless to Me’ is a star turn.
Another big and beautiful lady is Motormouth Maybelle (Sandra Marvin) a well rounded black Momma who moves and sings like a dream.
Lucy Benjamin plays the stage mother of the barbie doll Amber (Gemma Sutton) and Seaweed J. Stubbs is played by X Factor’s Marcus Collins who must have springs fitted into the soles of his shoes, he bounces his way high and happy through the evening.
As in many musicals, Act One sets the scene and Act Two explodes with colour.
In this show there are towering hair dos requiring a lot hairspray, raucous songs and energetic dance – indeed how does Freya Sutton remain so delightfully chubby with such exercise night after night.
There’s so much excitement in Hairspray I reckon you need to see it twice to really appreciate all that’s going on on stage. Thankfully it plays until 15th June with matinees on 8th, 13th and 15th.
Review by Anne Hailes