You know when you’ve seen a film but you can’t recall the storyline and would even be hard pushed to recall any character’s names but can still say that you enjoyed it and generally give it a thumbs up? Well that was my experience of Hairspray (2007, featuring Zac Efron for reference) up until last night. I went along to the Regent Theatre too see the stage production and I knew it was going to be good. But this was GOO-OOOD!
Firstly, the cast. Oh my god the cast. It was a perfect line-up with Freya Sutton reprising the role of Tracy Turnblad and Ashley Gilmour as the dreamy Link Larkin who Tracy sets her sight on when she makes it onto the much coveted Corny Collins Show. Hairspray is set in Baltimore in the year 1962 where racial tension in the city was rife and I have to admit this is something that completely went over me when I watched the film (granted it sets the entire plot for the film so I don’t know how I missed it- too swept up in shimmying along to You Can’t Stop The Beat I’ll bet) so I was surprised to see how well this story was told on stage. And, quite sobering, a lot of the topics which the production focuses around still ring true today in society where our appearances and the social circles we operate within are still under scrutiny. I enjoyed how these touchy subjects were interpreted through song and dance and Seaweed’s (Dex Lee) Run And Tell That was perhaps one of my favourite performances of the night.
The entire cast were impressive and made up of some of the best singers and dancers I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing perform. Brenda Edwards as Motormouth Maybelle is phenomenal and brought the house down with I Know Where I’ve Been. A special mention has to go to Matt Rixon’s interpretation of Edna Turnblad, the seemingly shy and retiring mother or Tracy. Rixon managed to strike the perfect balance for this character with just the right amount of Panto-esque charm in there for me and of course, the other half of this duo, husband Wilbur (Peter Duncan) delivered my very favourite performance of the night You’re Timeless To Me.
There wasn’t a song the audience didn’t delight in and we all got up and danced between a standing ovation. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s infectious and a complete feel-good feeling- you just can’t stop the beat!
Hairspray is now playing at The Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent until Saturday 14th May. For tickets and visit www.atgtickets.com/venues/regent-theatre or call the Box Office on 0844 871 7649.