Latest Review – Hairspray [Palace Theatre, Manchester] [UK Tour]

A Curve Theatre Production


Palace Theatre, Manchester

Until Saturday 31 October, 2015

Having enjoyed a sell-out run at the Curve Theatre, Leicester back in mid 2014, this brand new production of the hit musical now hits the road for an extensive UK tour, under the impeccable direction of former Curve Artistic Director, Paul Kerryson.

Adapted from John Waters’ 1988 cult comedy of the same name, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman’s musical (with a book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan) initially presents itself as a fun and fancy free show packed full of energy, effervescence and larger than life characters, but similar to what David Bryan and Joe DiPietro have achieved with their hit musical Memphis, Hairspray is ultimately a searing social critique on the injustices of American society in the 1960s.

Set in the Baltimore of 1962 the show follows the travails of spirited teenager Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair who dreams of one day dancing on national TV hit ‘The Corny Collins Show’ – and possibly catching the eye of teenage heartthrob Link Larkin. After winning a place on the show and gaining overnight celebrity status, Tracy uses her new-found fame to fight for equality and campaign for integration.

In the central role, Freya Sutton reprises her acclaimed performance as Tracy from the previous UK Tour with another impressive rendition of the character and Tony Maudsley gives us a joyous performance in the now iconic gender-swapping role of Tracy’s mother, Edna, echoing Harvey Fierstein’s Tony Award-winning turn in the original Broadway production. In terms of the supporting cast, performances are often a little hit and miss, however the extraordinary Brenda Edwards must been given special mention as Motormouth, dominating the stage and bringing the house down with a spine-tingling rendition of the haunting I Know Where I’ve Been.

There were a few technical issues to contend with on opening night (which unfortunately delayed the curtain by almost 20-minutes), but nevertheless, Kerryson’s production is fast, slick and bursting with energy, helped along by a top notch cast and creative team and a superb orchestra under the experienced baton of Musical Director, Ben Atkinson.

Yes Hairspray is an undeniably over-the-top, feel-good show, however it is the powerful underlying message that really drives the piece, and ensuring this emotional impact is never lost sight of is key to the success of the production.

Running Time: 2 hours 30 minutes (approx.), including one 20-minute interval.

Final Performance at the Palace Theatre, Manchester: Saturday 31 October, 2015.

For more information, and to book tickets, please Click Here.

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