Wednesday, 9 May 2018

I've Got My Ticket... Hairspray - The Musical

Although I had never seen the very original 1988 Hairspray film, the cinema trailer for the 2007 re-release was so vibrant and full of energy that I felt like I’d have been missing out on all of the fun had I not gone to watch it – And I was right!

Later on, when the DVD was available in stores I was soon purchasing my copy, then, before I knew it, I was watching the new musical version in London's West End, which I also loved.

That was a decade ago, and with it being far too long I was more than ready to see the current production that is touring around the UK and Ireland at the moment.

All I needed was to add some volume to my hair and grab my mum (who is also a big fan of the film) and I was all set for not having a lot of voice left the next day after all the singing that I would be doing.

Everything you need to know about Hairspray the musical and my overall star rating

Show Name: Hairspray - The Musical
Venue: The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
Performance Dates: Tuesday 8th May - Saturday 12 May 2018
Starring: Rebecca Mendoza, Matt Rixon, Norman Pace, Edward Chitticks, Brenda Edwards, Annalise Liard-Bailey, Layton Williams, Aimee Moore, Jon Tsouras
Directed by: Paul Kerryson 
Choreography by: Drew McOnie

Brief Information:
Based in the groovy 1960’s era, schoolgirl Tracy Turnblad isn’t your average teen, which is why the ladies of the ever so popular ‘The Corny Collins Show’ despise her, especially Amber and her mother. Velma Von Tussle works behind the scenes doing her utmost best to put her daughter in the spotlight - and she plans to keep things that way.

Like her mother Tracy has an appetite - and a curvaceous figure to show for it. Being a gutsy young lady however, she doesn’t let this prevent her from auditioning for a new place on the all-singing, all-dancing televised programme. After all, her humour, boldness and sheer determination are quite contagious, which is why the shows pin-up Link Larkin falls for her - much to the annoyance of Amber.

Tracy’s parents and her best friend, Penny, are beyond thrilled about her sudden rise to fame, as are the community of mixed races at the appearance of seeing someone a bit different on their television screens. In a time when people with a skin colour other than white are thought much less of, this  could be the positive indication that change is about to follow.

After landing herself in detention Tracy chats, harmonizes and shakes her hips with personalities of who it is ruled not to. Then, speaking up for those who are too shy to do so, she teams up with a crowd of them to publicize that no matter where you are from or what you look like, equality is a must. Tracy makes this an even bigger challenge for herself, aiming to get mixed races their own place on TV.

Prior to the show:
Even with the lively Nikky Blonsky, brilliant John Travolta and handsome Zac Efron from the 2007 film being, of course, absent from this theatre production it didn't faze me that the stage version maybe wouldn't excel.

The songs are absolutely brilliant on their own, but the inclusion of each character is a further asset because, although they may have things in common, each of them offers something individually. May it be through coolness, funniness or quirkiness, they are all relatable, and this is what charmed me, as did the motivating objective of the story.

What did you like?
Firstly, I was delighted to see, and needless to say, hear, the live band with this is a musical that definitely should not be without one. As for the cast, it was Jon Tsouras who initially impressed me acing the cool persona of his character, TV host Corny Collins. Layton Williams, who played the role of Seaweed, is another cast member that I can see keep progressing in his career. Whether it be singing, dancing, acting, or a combination of the three, his stage presence was honestly, exceptional.

Although it is made no secret that the role of Mrs Turnblad is in fact played by a man, not many audience members would have suspected that this certain theatre production was the professional debut of Rebecca Mendoza, who plays the starring character of Tracy.

Pantomimes are mainly the past theatre work of Annalise Liard-Bailey, who takes on the role as Tracy's best friend Penny, but you would have thought that she had been in the musical business for much longer going off of her fantastic performance. What is brought to the show by the remaining cast members, of which include 2005 The X Factor contestant Brenda Edwards (Motormouth Maybelle) and actor and funnyman Norman Pace (Wilbur Turnblad) indeed, deserved applauding too. The chemistry on stage between Mr and Mrs Turnblad was ever so funny that it caused outbursts of laughter in the auditorium for long periods of time.

I particularly admired the amount of thought and effort that you could see had been put in to the preparation of the eye-catching wardrobe pieces and striking hairdos fashioned by all of those seen involved. Both were undoubtedly noticed especially in my two same favourite song scenes as in the film - 'Welcome to the 60's' and in the final number 'You Can't Stop the Beat'.

What would you change?
Unfortunately on multiple occasions during the show I felt that Rebecca overdid it on the singing vocals of Tracy, resulting in sounding quite squeaky on some songs.

My rating out of five:
Find out more about Hairspray - The Musical, including ticket prices and performance times:
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