Review: Hairspray at the Regent Theatre, Stoke on Trent

Director: Paul Kerryson

Musical Director: Ben Atkinson

Writer: Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan

Music: Mark Shaiman

Lyrics: Scott Whittman and Marc Shaiman

Following on from some of the speeches at the BAFTAs it couldn’t be a better time to watch Hairspray. Set in the 1960s, it tells the story of Tracy as she follows her dream of becoming a dancer for the Corny Collins Show and pursues the idea of integrating the TV show so that people of all races can dance alongside each other. Of course, back in the early 1960s, his was unheard of!

During the first couple of musical numbers the energy seemed to lack a bit but on the whole, the entire company still spectacularly pulled off  Drew Mconie’s slick choreography and it didn’t take long for this show to find it’s feat and reach the levels of effort and fun the musical needs to succeed.

The vocals are excellent throughout and aid the understanding and engagement with the story. Although this is a very up-tempo musical, it contains a lot of elements to think about including a Romeo and Juliet-esque relationships.  It is a credit to Paul Kerryson’s direction of this latest UK Tour that these themes are not lecturing but they do focus the production and make it a worthwhile watch.

Leading this show is a fantastic array of talented older actors such as Claire Sweeney who completely throws herself into the role of Velma Von Trussle, a pushy parent who will do anything to get her way. Matt Rixon and Peter Duncan show the best relationship chemistry of the night and steal the show towards the end of Act Two with the song You’re Timeless to me.  Tonight was also a chance for Corny Collin’s understudy Anthony Selwyn to step into the limelight and he shown a great level of understanding for his character.

Full of comedy, colour and a bit of ‘campness’ Hairspray is fun for all the family but that doesn’t take away from its beating heat laying underneath which contains a large number of morals and lessons. This is a show about individuality, love and integration and is set alongside some catchy tunes which all combine to create a great night out.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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