Imagine if you can, being transported from the comfort of your theatre seat at Leicester’s state of the art Curve theatre, to a vibrant and bursting 1962 Baltimore. The stage is set, the curtain comes up and an incredibly bubbly and enthusiastic teenage Tracy Turnblad breaks into the song Good Morning Baltimore. The character not only dreams of appearing on the hit dance show, ‘The Corny Collins Show’, but also has her heart set on spreading the love for integration and not segregation during a time of White Supremacy in America. It is at times hard, masked behind the upbeat songs such as Big, Blonde and Beautiful and You Can’t Stop the Beat, but the musical also highlights the importance and the fight of racial equality in early 1960s America.
Director Paul Kerryson’s envision of the 2002 hit Broadway Musical Hairspray, based on the original book written by Mark O’Donnel and Thomas Meehan, is an energetic and stunning performance from beginning to end. With its acutely precise choreography which will leave you memorised, along with some playful chorus numbers, the audience really gets a taste for what life was like in the oppressive early 60s in Baltimore.
The whole show was performed by a truly talented cast, with Rebecca Craven as Tracy Turnblad, David Witts as Link Larkin, as well as some others, creating a lasting impression in the mind. The audience was left singing and dancing along to some of their musical favourites.
The Waterloo Road star, Rebecca Craven, gave a fabulous and quirky performance as Tracy Turnblad performing the character as her own. Delivering powerful solos such as, Good Morning Baltimore and I Can Hear the Bells, Craven left the audience tapping their feet and moving their bodies itching to get up and dance along with her. There were elements to Rebecca’s performance that personalised the character and added something special and unique to the musical.
The ever so handsome heartthrob Link Larkin was played by none other than Eastenders own David Witts, leaving the ladies in the audience swooning at his sleek dance moves and wishing they were Tracy when he sang It Takes Two in the first half of the musical. As well as Rebecca and David giving an outstanding performance, Tyrone Huntley (Seaweed) and Claudia Kariuki (Motourmouth Maybelle) also showcased their stunning vocal abilities in soulful numbers such as Run and Tell That and the forever emotional I Know Where I’ve Been. Karikui’s performance of I Know Where I’ve Been which was in the second act, introduced an underlying depth of emotion, breaking up the upbeat tone of the musical and reasserting attention back to the main focus of the musical – racial equality. Other great performances were delivered by Zizi Strallen (Penny Pingleton) who seemed to effortlessly fit in the role as a rebellious yet geeky teenager and best friend to Tracy, and really showed off her vocal ability during such numbers as Mumma ima big girl now. Damian Williams, who gave a masculine yet camp interpretation of the role Edna Turnblad (traditionally played by a man), was sensational and creatively suited to the role.
As well as showcasing fantastic vocals and acting, the musicals choreography by Lee Proud captured the essence of early sixties in full swing. The audience were tapping their feet the whole way through, and some even got up to dance towards the end. The costumes designed by Siobhan Boyd were eye catching and again captured the sixties style with its glitz and glam.
If the Curve’s production could be summed up in three words it would have to be cheeky, camp and colourful. The various elements such as the set, costumes, choreography, live orchestra and cast combined, make for a stunning and must see performance of Hairspray. Overall we give Curve’s Production of Hairspray a well-deserved five stars and would most certainly recommend that anyone and everyone go see it!
Tickets are still available for Hairspray at The Curve. For more information, and tickets, please click here.