As John Water’s much-loved musical production Hairspray stopped off at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal as part of its UK tour, Jacob Newbury tells us why he could not stop smiling.
Tracy Turnblad is a girl with big hair and even bigger dreams of becoming a TV star. Hairspray: The Musical takes place in Baltimore in the 1960s as the story navigates Tracy through the challenges of institutional racism in a bid to integrate black and white youths through dance on The Corny Collins Show.
From the moment Good Morning Baltimore began, the audience was felt immersed in the multi-coloured extravaganza that is Hairspray. There was a rainbow of colours on show, from the suits to the spotlights, which captured everyone’s attention from the get-go, and of course, there was an ample amount of hairspray in use. The opening number was a wonderful introduction to Tracy’s world, setting the scene for more to come.
Rebecca Mendoza, who makes her professional debut after graduating from Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, plays Tracy. Mendoza delivers a great display of all three disciplines; she possesses a lovely voice and she seemed right at home on the Theatre Royal stage. However, even with the timely story line, the stars of the show are Tracy’s parents. Matt Rixon and Norman Place star as Edna and Wilbur Turnblad and had the whole audience giggling – as well as themselves at times. Their rendition of Timeless to Me was full of organic laughs and the pair did well to get through to the end.
There were two wonderful performances by Layton Williams and Brenda Edwards, who play a mother and son duo, Seaweed and Motormouth Maybelle respectively. Layton’s dancing credentials were on full display; after all, he did star as Billy Elliot in the West End. Brenda’s portrayal of the rhythm and blues DJ was flawless from start to finish, and her delivery of I Know Where’ve Been had the audience in awe and received a deserving standing ovation at the end. Edward Chitticks stood out as the frustratingly super-handsome Link Larkin. His performance alongside Mendoza was faultless, he also possesses an immaculate voice.
The choreography throughout was impressive, alongside the outrageously colourful costumes and vibrantly lit set; Hairspray delivered. From young to old, anyone can enjoy Hairspray and the cast had everyone on their feet at the end clapping and singing along with on You Can’t Stop The Beat. While the bubbly show put a smile on everyone’s face, it is a timely reminder of how far we have come but how much that can still be done.
Hairspray: The Musical is on at Nottingham Theatre Royal until 24 February.