Theatre Review – Hairspray – The Mayflower

Hairspray is back at the Mayflower this week and what could be better than spending the evening with Corny Collins and the nicest kids in town?

Hairspray is the story of larger than life Tracey Turnblad as she tries to become a dancer on her favourite show and change some political views while she does it.

Although Hairspray is a vibrant, colourful and funny musical it does focus on some of the big issues of the times. Set in 1962 when segregation was still rife in the US Hairsprays underlying story is one of overcoming the obstacles forced in your way by society; whether it be because of your size or colour.

I love this musical, I’ve seen it a few times and played the DVD to death so I’m always excited to watch it.

The songs are great, ‘Without Love’ and ‘I Can Hear The Bells’ were 2 of my favourite moments. The latter being one of the best comedy performances I’ve seen. Rebecca Mendoza is making her professional debut in this tour and you’d think she’d been doing this for years. She’s instantly likable and brings her own twist on this beloved character.

Matt Rixon was brilliant as Edna and the pairing of him and comedy legend Norman Pace was genius. Especially during ‘Timeless to Me’ when they both ad-libbed a bit and had the crowd, and themselves, roaring with laughter.

Brenda Edwards bought a bit of sass to Motormouth Maybelle and her powerful performance of ‘I Know Where I’ve Been’ brought a tear to my eye.

But for me the 3 standout performers of the evening were Layton Williams playing Seaweed, who was hard to ignore when he was on the stage, his voice is incredible and the dancing!! Oh my word I’ve never seen so many backflips during a show before. After reading a little about him he was in Billy Elliot which explains the amazing dancing but I was impressed with him, I’d like to see him in some other shows.

Gina Murray who played a character I normally don’t really take to, Velma Von Tussle, actually made me like her. She was funny and evil in equal measure and her performance of ‘(The Legend Of) Miss Baltimore Crabs’ was for me the song of the evening, and that’s normally the one I like the least!

It wasn’t until the very end we realised that the 3 characters we’d be laughing at the most were all actually played by the same actress. Tracey Penn you are wonderful!! All the characters she played were sort of mean, the PE Teacher, Prison Guard and Mrs Pingleton but she played them with Gusto. It reminded me a bit of the kind of madcap character Miranda Hart is. Full of energy.

As always Hairspray is an enjoyable night out and I think this cast bring it up a notch from the last time. You’ll laugh, You’ll cry and you’ll come out wanting to watch it again!

I’m just off to find my Hairspray DVD…


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