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Never Mind The Beat - You Can't Stop Smiling!
Member Name: SomethingToBe
Disadvantages: Expensive tickets
Ever since I first saw the film of Hairspray, I have been a massive fan and so I was really excited when my friend got me a ticket to the stage production for my birthday (including an ice cream in the interval, result!!). The show is currently on at the Shaftesbury Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, near both Leicester Square and Tottenham Court Road tube stations.
Hairspray is one of the more expensive musicals, with tickets around £50. However my friend got an offer through the Metro newspaper which meant we got our tickets for £37. Obviously last minute deals, seat positions etc cause prices to vary.
The show is set in 1962 in the racially segregated town of Balimore in America. The main character is Tracy Turnblad, an overweight school girl with dreams; the dance on TV, to marry heartthrob Link Larkin and to integrate white and black people. When one of the dancers on Tracy's favourite TV programme- The Corny Collins Show- has to "go away for 9 months", Tracy auditions and despite the best efforts from the show's producer Velma Von Tussel to dismiss her, Corny takes a shine and puts her on his show. After making friends with a young black dancer, Seaweed, in detention, Tracy is on a mission to integrate the black and white societies and plans to do so on the national "Corny Collins" special, by bringing all her new friends along to the recording. However the show's producers will do everything they can to stop her.....
The main cast list is as follows:
Michael Ball- Edna Turnblad
Nigel Planer- Wilbur Turnblad
Leanne Jones- Tracy Turnblad
Ben James-Ellis- Link Larkin
Verity Rushworth- Penny Pingleton
Liz Robertson- Velma Von Tussel
Zoe Rainey- Amber Von Tussel
Adrian Hansel- Seaweed
I have to say, I thought the cast were absolutely brilliant. Leanne Jones is outstanding as Tracy and does not overact, as theatrical leads do tend to do sometimes. Michael Ball and Nigel Planer were hilarious as Tracy's parents and I was pleasantly surprised by Verity Rushworth (Donna Windsor in Emmerdale)- who knew she had such an amazing voice?! All the cast portrayed thoroughly likeable characters, and the Von Tussels as the "bad guys" really worked the comedic sides of their characters. I was also very impressed with the American accents, and nobody's sounded bad at all!
All of the songs from the Hairspray film were in the musical including "Good Morning Baltimore" (my personal favourite!), "Welcome to the 60s", "I Can Hear the Bells" and "You Can't Stop the Beat" and there were several other songs that were omitted from the film. The songs are what makes this musical so great, they are so upbeat and you cant help but smile. The cast are all fantastic singers and really bring atmosphere to what they are singing. The dancing is also fantastic and each routine really suited the song. It is a couple of days later and I still have the songs going round my brain, they are that catchy so Beware!
Production was very smooth and the backgrounds were used very effectively. Several mini scenes ran across the stage and it all worked really well.
Musical VS Film
As much as I loved the film, the musical is miles better, I think because you get the atmosphere that you don't on screen. The finale of "You Cant Stop the Beat" was truly spectacular and all of the audience were on their feet dancing along, then giving a standing ovation when the actors took their bows. The musical also plays on the script's humour, and is much funnier than the film. The duet between Edna and Wilbur Turnblad "You're Timeless To Me" was particularly funny in our performance as both actors got a case of the giggles and ended up ad-libbing a bit!
I cant say enough positives!! Me and my friend sat in the theatre with massive grins on our faces the whole way through, and I realised on the train home how much my cheeks hurt!! The only downside is that I don't know whether I will appreciate the film quite so much anymore!! Brilliant actors, brilliant songs and a brilliant atmosphere- it is not wonder that Hairspray won 4 different "Best Musical" awards in 2008!
Summary: Worth Every Penny!!!
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