“ Country: England / Northern Ireland / Scotland „
I saw this musical in the first week of its new national tour, it was at the Manchester Opera House but will now be touring a multitude of venues across the country. If you happen to live near one of these venues I highly recommend you look into getting tickets.
Hairspray is set in 1962 tells the story of unlikely heroine Tracy Turnblad. Tracy is an excitable, optimistic, enthusiastic and slightly chubby 17 year old. She loves nothing more than singing and dancing, using hairspray to tease her 'do' to impossible heights and teen heart throb Link Larkin.
We follow Tracy as she cheerily fights against injustice in her own special way, first by proving that a bigger girl can dance just as well as the skinny ones and appearing on the Corny Collins show, and secondly by standing up for the civil rights of the dancers who are only allowed to appear on the show once a month on 'negro day'.
Tracy is helped by best friend Penny, parents Edna and Wilbur and a whole host of new allies who fall for her charm during the course of the story. She is up against the downright evil Velma Von Tussle, racist and shallow producer of the Corny Collins show and her daughter Amber, the queen bee who is determined not to let Tracy steal her crown.
The music in this show is fantastic, its a real mixture and every single song will make you want to get up and dance. During the finale of 'You Can't Stop The Beat' most of the audience did just that! There's a lot of variety, the songs range from the hilarious ('I Can Hear The Bells') where a lovestruck Tracy imagines her romance with Link) to the very moving ('I Know Where I've Been', a powerful ballad about the civil rights struggle).
The acting was wonderful, Laurie Scarth as Tracy captured her unique character perfectly, could make you laugh or cry and really made the audience feel as though they were on Tracy's side. Her voice is incredible too, as you realise from the very beginning with opening number 'Good Morning Baltimore'.
Michael Ball (in drag) and Nigel Planer as Tracy's parents frequently stole the show, they were a hilarious double act and a surprisingly heartwarming representation of an older couple still in love despite their flaws. Their rendition of 'You're Timeless To Me' was both very sweet and the funniest part of the show, the audience were in stitches and my jaw actually hurt from laughing so much! They both have great comic timing and instincts.
The supporting cast were all talented and there were no weak links, wonderful singers and wonderful dancers all. Sometimes when you see a musical you find yourself watching the same dancers in every song because they are so obviously the best, but not in Hairspray. Here, the whole cast is pretty mesmerising and when everybody is on stage together the effect is incredible.
The sets and costumes were very well designed and really capture a sense of the sixties while also being just outlandish enough to give the impression that this isn't quite the real world! There are lots of bright colours, impossible hairstyles and sparkles. I was seriously jealous of some of the dresses the girls on stage were wearing though!
Overall, I had a great evening watching Hairspray. If it hadn't been sold out I would happily have gone to see it a second time and I've had the catchy songs stuck in my head ever since! Even if you're not usually a fan of musical theatre I would still recommend this show because I really do think there's something for everyone.