I recently went to see Hairspray on its UK tour at the Mayflower Theatre. With its big name and reputation, I had high expectations. I had seen the DVD prior to this and knew roughly what to expect, especially with the songs. This time I sat in stalls, which were really good.
From the moment I started watching the show until the very end, I could not help but feel that there was something missing. There was just not that wow factor. I am not sure if this was down to my prior knowledge or something else. The songs, although well known, were still very uplifting and enjoyable to watch.
Hairspray is about a girl called Tracy Turnblad who has a dream about appearing on her favourite TV show ‘The Corny Collins Show’. She eventually succeeds and becomes a celebrity overnight. Throughout, she pursues a guy named Link Larkin. She fights for racial integration on the show. With this being said, not everyone is happy about her arrival, so some try to do whatever it takes to get her off the show. She ends up winning the crown and her and Link get together whilst also racially integrating the show.
Tracy Turnblad (Freya Sutton) was a very happy and energetic character. The show started with her singing ‘Good Morning Baltimore’. It lightened my mood and showed the audience what she was going to be like throughout! I can only imagine how hard it must be to maintain this amount of energy. Link Larkin (Ashley Gilmour) was a character I did not enjoy. I never felt any emotion from him. I do not want to blame the actor as I felt the character lacked depth in his personality. It must be hard to make you standout. I would like to have seen the character further developed in the script. This meant that the love story between Tracy and Link was one sided to me.
The main love story in my eyes was between Seaweed (Dex Lee) and Penny Pingleton (Monique Young). These two were in my opinion were extremely underrated and were the stars of the show. Seaweed’s acting was on point and his singing and dancing were enough to leave you stunned! Penny was very socially awkward, but we still loved her, as we knew there was far more to her then met the eye as seen in the end.
Velma (Claire Sweeney) and Amber (Lauren Stroud) Von Tussle were the ‘baddies’. This was very noticeable and clear for the audience. Almost too clear if you ask me! Velma started walking through the audience during the show. When she walked past my row, I felt very intimidated and avoided eye contact to not be noticed. This showed me how well she played her role! Amber was a very ‘Barbie Doll’ figure that once again lacked a real personality. One of the only things you noticed was how annoying she was, which I guess suggested she did her job!
The Ensemble were of a very high standard and outclassed some of the main cast at times. I saw that Brenda Edwards was in the show as Motormouth Maybelle. I remembered her from the X Factor and she proved how she got so far in the competition with her vocals. I would definitely say singing was her main strength though. In the background, the pit band was shown at times. This was great because they were noticed when the cast left, not long after the pit band finished, meaning they received a well deserved standing ovation from the audience.
Hairspray was good, but I cannot say it lived up to the big name I was expecting. I felt it was far more about the well-known songs than the story line. With some of the characters lacking depth in their personality (fault of the script), I could not feel the emotion of the show properly. There was only once in the whole show when I was genuinely overwhelmed with excitement. This was when Penny and Seaweed declared their love. I did really enjoy Tracy’s determination to racially integrate into the show! Although for the most part the cast were phenomenal, I just did not feel the script and production gave them the justice they deserved.