“Come on Sunderland, let’s dance…” as soon as leading lady, Tracy Turnblad, as played by Rebecca Mendoza, uttered those words the entire audience jumped on its feet. Clapping, toe-tapping, shaking it from side-to-side and singing along to the closing single ‘You Can’t Stop The Beat,’ by the time Hairspray had finished it was clear the Sunderland crowd were ready to party, but not after they gave the opening night performance a standing ovation, which was well and truly deserved.
This international smash hit musical, Hairspray, is set in Baltimore in 1962, where Tracy Turnblad – a big girl, with big hair and even bigger dreams – dreams of dancing her way onto national TV, and into the heart of teen idol Link Larkin, as played by Edward Chitticks. Tracy soon becomes a local star and uses her newfound fame to fight for integration. Spoiler alert; she wins equality and Link’s heart all without messing up her perfectly backcombed do.
Although the performance did start much later than expected (I assume there was an issue as Penny, Tracy’s best friend, was played by understudy, Lindsay Atherton) the wait was totally worth it, as the production was absolutely brilliant from start to finish.
The vocals were faultless. Motormouth Maybelle, as played by Brenda Edwards, who is the black presenter on the national Corny Collins Show, Velma Von Tussle, as played by Gina Murray, who is the villain-like producer of the show and Seaweed, as played by Layton Williams, who is Motormouth Maybelle’s son, were a few of my favourites. Full of soul, when they hit those high notes it was hair tingling good.
I usually find that when the vocals are superb the dancing suffers, however, the dancing was fantastic. Flips, dips, kicks, bumping and grinding, the more they danced the more you wanted to get up and join them, which is what happened during the last number.
I have to applaud actors, Matt Rixon and Norman Pace, who played Edna Turnblad and Wilbur Turnblad – Tracy’s mam and dad. The chemistry that they had on stage was completely genuine and I loved that when singing ‘You’re Timeless To Me’ they had the confidence to ad-lib, which set the audience off in fits of laughter.
I absolutely love the movie (I mean who wouldn’t with Zac Efron) and I have to admit the musical exceeded my expectations. A brilliant production that offers everything – talented actors and actresses, fantastic vocals, amazing dance moves and extremely funny moments – I’d recommend this to families or an evening with the girls!
Sarah Jayne x