Hairspray – The Playhouse, Edinburgh

Book: Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan
Music: Marc Shaiman
Lyrics: Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman
Director: Paul Kerryson
Reviewer: Dominic Corr

Good morning Baltimore and good evening Edinburgh. Based on John Walter’s 1988 film of the same name, it’s Baltimore, it’s the 1960s and it’s Hairspray. Young Tracey Turnblad (Freya Sutton) decides that it’s about time she achieved her vision of changing the out-dated (though sadly still prevalent) views on segregation she sees all around her. This high-spirited, musical romp takes the audience on a journey of understanding and tolerance through the importance of family, self-love and community – regardless of ethnicity.

Sutton leads this vivacious cast of energetic individuals in some of musical theatre’s most memorable tunes. Auditioning for The Corny Collins Show, Tracey finds herself under the gimlet gaze of producer Velma Von Tussle and her daughter Amber (Claire Sweeney and Lauren Stroud). As antagonists, they display that gleeful scenery chewing that fits perfectly with the jazzy and jarring colours of Paul Muir’s set. Mention must be made of Tony Maudsley and Peter Duncan as Edna and Wilbur Turnblad, who manage to be somehow adorable yet hilariously raunchy. More than this, Maudsley has the comedic prowess and stage presence to own every inch of that triple-D brassiere.

In the role of Tracey’s comedic foil and companion Penny, is understudy Natasha Mould, who looked thoroughly at home among the first string cast. Her vocals are auditorium filling and her chemistry with Dex Lee’s Seaweed tangible. Brenda Edwards as Motormouth Maybelle is a revelation; Hairspray is camp, bright and vibrant but Edwards brings something unique, an eloquence to the production, especially in her number I Know Where I’ve Been.

Speaking of bright and vibrant, Philip Gladwell has done a superb job stitching together enough colour, spotlighting and neon in the lighting to provide the show with a perfect compliment to the music. The set is simple and functional and communicates what it needs to without distracting from the action.

Hairspray remains a wonderful night out for all the family and the audience’s enthusiasm for it remains undiminished.

Runs until 27 February 2016 | Image: Ellie Kurtz

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The Scotland team is under the editorship of Lauren Humphreys. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.

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One Comment

  1. Went to see this show today…. Brenda Edwards as Motormouth could have sold out the auditorium independently!!!! The best vocals I have ever heard on my 37 years on earth

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