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Hairspray – Theatre Royal, Plymouth

Book: Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan
Music: Marc Shaiman
Lyrics: Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman
Director: Paul Kerryson
Choreographer: Drew McOnie

Musical Director: Ben Atkinson
Reviewer: Karen Bussell

 

FUN, glitter, and beehives gel with the fight against bigotry and segregation in the Tony and Olivier Award-winning musical Hairspray.

An odd recipe but one that actually works as the hard-hitting message is served up with a good side helping of teenage angst, fatism, and tasty tunes.

A talented cast breezes through Marc Shaiman (music and lyrics), Scott Wittman (lyrics), and Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan’s take on John Waters’ 1988 film while Paul Kerryman’s direction keeps the pace light and fast.

On press night, understudy Rosie O’Hare attacked the part of young star-struck militant Tracy Turnblad superbly. Feisty and frothy, the plus size school rebel wins both her man and the day for integration in a meteoric journey from chief pants-folder through prison to rising TV starlet.

Matthew Kelly’s son, Matt Rixon, makes a strident Edna abandoning her ironing board to fight the good fight. Her duet You’re Timeless To Me with diminutive Peter Duncan as husband Wilbur is a show stopper complete with excellent comedic timing and X-rated asides.

Lothario Seaweed is the snake-hipped, outstanding voiced Dex Lee whose sassy mother. Motormouth Maybelle, was again, on press night in Plymouth, played by an understudy – one-to-watch Aiesha Pease who belts out the hits, struts her stuff and belies her professional debut status.

Claire Sweeney is a revelation. Her Velma Von Tussle is a wonderfully manipulative, arrogant and nasty bigot whose eventual breakdown is a highlight of the show. Good voice, great moves and tremendous comic timing.

It’s all here: playground bullying, teenage heartthrobs, rebellion, racism, scandal, loving parents, abusive mothers, stereotyping and oh so much glitz.

Liam Dunachie directs the on-stage band from his piano as they romp through Shaiman’s poppy score while Corny Collins (Jon Tsourus) leads his dancers through early 1960s adolescent joie de vivre and feelgood hoofing.

Drew McOnie’s choreography swings from piston-armed stomping executed with great gusto to sexy sinewy sashays and shimmies and, coupled with Takis’s glitzy costuming, it’s colour and spectacle all the way.

Great fun.

Runs until 23 April 2016 | Image:Ellie Kurtz

Book: Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan Music: Marc Shaiman Lyrics: Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman Director: Paul Kerryson Choreographer: Drew McOnie Musical Director: Ben Atkinson Reviewer: Karen Bussell   FUN, glitter, and beehives gel with the fight against bigotry and segregation in the Tony and Olivier Award-winning musical Hairspray. An odd recipe but one that actually works as the hard-hitting message is served up with a good side helping of teenage angst, fatism, and tasty tunes. A talented cast breezes through Marc Shaiman (music and lyrics), Scott Wittman (lyrics), and Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan’s take on John Waters’ 1988…

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