Hairspray tells the story of Tracy Turnblad; a larger than life teen who loves to sing and dance. She has big dreams of becoming famous one day and won't let anything stand in her way. When she auditions to appear on The Corny Collins Show as a dancer, she is rejected by the producer at first because of her unconventional looks. When Corny himself sees how good she is at dancing- he gives her a place on the show. The programme only allows one 'negro day' a month and Tracy makes it her mission to have a fully integrated production as she knows all too well what it's like to be judged just for being different.
Freya Sutton was the perfect choice for the role as Tracy, she embodied the excitement and energy of the show in her enthusiastic performance and put a smile one everyone's face as the love struck teenager.
Brenda Edwards who played Motormouth Maybelle particularly stood out for me. Her voice was gritty and her performance was unapologetic and unashamedly feisty. The song- 'Big Blonde and Beautiful' was the ideal gateway to the second act and she nailed it.
Tony Maudsley and Peter Duncan were hilarious as husband and wife team, Wilbur and Edna Turnblad, especially in their duet of 'You're Timeless to Me' which had the audience in raptures.
I last saw Claire Sweeney in her performance as the genie in Aladdin, so it was great to see her take on a character that everyone loved to hate- Velma Von Tussle. It was clear that she enjoyed the role, especially when she sung 'Miss Baltimore Crabs' as it was far removed from the personality we have come to know and love in real life.
The show itself was a visual feast; bursting with colour and vibrancy- it brought the psychedelic sixties back to life.
The musical is not only entertaining but it also highlights the injustices in parts of American Society in 1960s. It is a joy to watch but carries a strong message with it too- one of perseverance paying off in spectacular fashion.
Hairspray's Broadway production only opened in August 2002, so it's not been on stage for very long compared to it's competitors, however I'm confident with such a strong cast it will continue to not only entertain but educate audiences for many years to come.
It felt for me like everyone in this production was made for their part- there were no weak links. When I saw the opening performance last night in Liverpool Empire Theatre, it was hard to believe that the cast hadn't been working together for years- they all looked so comfortable together.
Hairspray is enormous fun and you learn a little something from watching it too. It's was a humbling experience and a gentle reminder that we should never take for granted what we have now.