by Julie Wallis twitter.com/Nicenic63
Hairspray at Birmingham Hippodrome
Hairspray, the smash hit Broadway musical is at Birmingham Hippodrome this week and it is a joy to behold.
Set in 1962 America it centres around Tracy Turnblad who, with her best friend Penny Pingleton watches their favourite teen show Hairspray every evening. Hairspray is a dance show and they when they advertise for a new dancer for the hit show, Tracy applies and gets the job.
Once she is established as a popular and proficient dancer, Tracy decides it’s time that the white kids and the black kids are integrated and they should all dance together. But it’s not a popular decision with the adults, who are in favour of keeping the old format which has a designated “negro day” once a month.
It sounds deep and gritty, but the subject is handled with sensitivity and a heaps of fun. This show is so joyful. The music is uplifting and the characters are (for the most) instantly loveable and believable. There is a villain of the piece, Velma Von Tussle, who is the producer of the tv show, not only does she not want an integrated show, she wants Tracy off the show and will stop at nothing to see her daughter take the crown as Miss Hairspray.
The part of Tracy’s mother, Edna is traditionally played by a man, and Matt Rixon tackles the role with gusto and a lot of humour. This is a comedy, it might not sound it by my synopsis but it is . It’s light hearted, warm hearted and upbeat.
Hairspray also boasts an impressive musical score and includes Good Morning Baltimore, Welcome To The 60s, Mama I’m a Big Girl Now and my personal favourite You’re timeless to Me which is sung by Tracy’s dad Wilbur Norman Pace to Tracy’s mum Edna.
Returning to the cast, as I said Edna Turnblad is played by Matt Rixon, who really gets his teeth into the role and makes for a believable and lovable mother, who for the most part we forget he is a man, but he does like to remind us of his manliness when he hits a few deep notes during some of the songs. Edna is also a comic sight to behold when she is on stage with her husband Wilbur Norman Pace as Wilbur is slight chap, but again a character with a big heart and an immense sense of fun and justice. It’s apparent his family are his world.
Tracy is played by Rebecca Mendoza and she is a delight to watch. Her powerful voice fills the auditorium and her on stage character is a warm and well balanced, charming young lady. Rebecca conveys this with a natural ease and once again plays a very believable character. Tracy is a lovable character and I loved Rebecca playing her. She is a talented singer, actor and dancer.
Jon Tsouras playing the host of the tv show, Corny Collins. Corny is the cheesy frontman of the hit tv show complete with sequinned blazer and big grin. Layton Williams playing Seaweed has some very impressive moves, not just great dance moves, but some gymnastics too. Annalise Liard-Bailey plays Penny and she is just adorable and very much reminded me of my own children at that age. She certainly made me smile lots and I forgot she was an adult woman, for me she played the perfect teen. Brenda Edwards returns to the cast as Motormouth Maybelle showing her huge vocal range in the role.
Gina Murray as Velma Von Tussle, the aforementioned villain of the piece was superb and I loved it when towards the end she came into the audience to try to stop them from clapping and cheering on Tracy. This show was a lot of fun.
Hairspray is packed full of great music, fantastic choreography and lovely characters. The set is predominantly the tv studio, but moves from scene to scene with ease. The lighting was perfect, the band were wonderful and the entire evening was pure theatrical delight. If you love the 2007 movie of Hairspray then you will be blown away with this magnificent stage show because it’s even better live.
This is the ultimate feel good show and if you love great musicals I’d certainly not think twice about booking tickets. I had a wonderful time at Birmingham Hippodrome last night. But I do love a good musical and Hairspray truly is a great musical.
Hairspray is at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 14th October. Book tickets here: birminghamhippodrome.com/calendar/hairspray/
Julie was invited to see Hairspray at Birmingham Hippodrome with #BrumHour and this is her own view. This isn’t a sponsored post.