Hairspray (UK tour): Orchard Theatre, Dartford.
Reviewed on 9th September 2017.
The latest production of Hairspray will certainly have you transported back to the 60’s with its stylish, colourful costumes, fantastic dancing and catchy songs. A hit for all the family!
This production is very similar to the 2016-2017 UK tour. In fact the creatives are largely the same (director: Paul Kerryson) and a lot of the cast members have returned so if you were a fan of the show before then chances are you will still enjoy the latest outing of this catchy musical.
The sets worked and served their purpose, although were not that innovative or creative. The costumes on the other hand were really good and fitting with the era and the lively manner of the show. I particularly liked the Dynamites costumes and the colourful suits. All of the costumes were bright and colourful. Just what this show is about!
Drew McOnie’s choreography once again fitted the show completely and the talented cast were expertly able to spin, flick and jump around on stage at a high energy pace. The whole show is very energetic and the closing number ‘You Can’t Stop the Beat’ got everyone clapping along. The gymnastic flips were also a highlight of the show, in particular from Reece Richards, Jordan Laviniere, Layton Williams and Devon McKenzie-Smith.
The whole production was very slick, as you would expect, but not without its faults. The sound quality was very poor. The microphones kept cutting out and at the start the opening act the actors were far too loud. I hope this is just an issue at this venue and can be rectified as it did detract from some of the vocals and dialogue. In addition, the lighting was vivid and colourful but was not always illuminating the correct character.
However this cast are superb! Layton Williams (who has stepped up this year to play Seaweed) was outstanding. Dancing is obviously one of his strongest attributes and he got the chance to show this off to full effect as Seaweed. Vocally he has a lovely voice and his version of ‘Run and Tell That‘ was in loop in my head long into the night.
Brenda Edwards, revised her role as Motormouth Maybelle, certainly has the voice to carry this character off! ‘I Know Where I’ve Been‘ was sung perfectly and was full of emotion highlighting the key message of this show – equality. The staging of this song was so simple and yet highly effective. It is a message that we still need to hear and spread, maybe now even more so.
Matt Rixon (revising his role of Edna Turnblad) and Norman Pace (Wilbur Turnblad) were a great pairing and bounced off each other. Definitely amongst the audience’s favourites. Jon Tsouras played a fantastic Corny Collins. He has a lovely, rich voice and was very believable as the character. I also enjoyed watching Jordan Laviniere, Aimee Moore, Gina Murray, Melissa Nettleford, Emily-Mae and Monifa James who maintained character and gave it their all whether during the dancing, acting or singing.
Link Larkin was played by understudy Daniel Clift at this performance who was fantastic in the role. He was very realistic as Link and made the character feel very personable. His dancing and singing, as per the whole cast, was top notch.
Lastly Tracy Turnblad, played by newcomer Rebecca Mendoza, was played just as you would expect her to be. Rebecca has good comic timing, on stage chemistry and her vocals were really good throughout the demanding show. She was definitely a hit with the audience and portrayed the energetic, enthusiastic Tracy really well.
If you are a fan of Hairspray then you had better head straight to your local theatre to catch this foot tapping musical. Whilst it may not offer much more than previous incarnations of the show it sticks to its roots and it certainly has the audience bopping away in their seats. A must see for any Hairspray fans.
Hairspray the UK Tour is paying in the UK and Ireland until 3rd June 2018. Tickets available from: http://www.hairsprayuktour.com/tour-dates/
Photo credit: Darren Bell.