Set in the swinging 60’s, Hairspray sees Tracey Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and even bigger dreams, audition to become a dancer on national TV with the “Nicest Kids in Town”.
Tracy’s new-found local fame sets her on a path of discovery challenging inequality, racism and the super mean “Nicest Kids in Town”. Along the way she meets heartthrob Link Larkin and tries to dance her way into his affections too.
The cast are exceptionally strong; Matt Rixon is hilarious as Edna Turnblad, Tracy’s larger than life mum. Graham MacDuff provides the perfect foil to Edna as her witty husband Wilbur; these two have great chemistry together and this was never clearer than when things went a little off piste . After seeing them ad-lib, there’s definite potential for a stand-alone comedy double act here.
Rosie O’Hare plays Tracy to good comedic effect; she is effervescent and bursting with energy throughout; she has a pretty voice too. Her Tracy is most likeable when sharing scenes with Dan Partridge’s Link Larkin, who epitomises the teen heartthrob with both excellent voice and stage presence.
Seaweed has long been my favourite character in Hairspray; local born Shak Gabbidon-Williams excels in this role; he can dance, act and boy, can this guy sing. His partnership with Annalise Liard-Bailey as Penny is sweet; Annalise gives a rather less annoying and more endearing Penny than I’ve previously encountered and is hilarious in her first role since graduating. Completing the line-up is X Factor alum Brenda Edwards as Motormouth Maybelle. She brings the house down with her rendition of ‘I Know Where I’ve Been’, and a sassy performance of ‘Big, Blonde and Beautiful’.
There’s also an excellent ensemble of talented dancers and singers; Drew McConie’s choreography is inventive and simultaneously blends 60’s moves with the more energetic freestyle befitting of the characters of Tracy and Seaweed.
There’s a reason why Hairspray has been such a phenomenal success, on stage and in film. It’s a massively feel good musical, with plenty of toe tapping tracks and infectious melodies. If you already love the film, you’re going to be in for a real treat. But don’t worry if you’ve never seen Hairspray before; you’ll soon feel like part of the gang and be dancing along in the aisles.
Hairspray shows so much love and acceptance that even the most Trumped up hair will leave bouffant and bouncy as a bubble of gum. This is one show you won’t want to miss.
Where can I see Hairspray?
Hairspray is at New Theatre Oxford from 18th June 2018 until 23rd June. It then grooves off around the UK until August. Don’t miss this opportunity to see it outside of London!