If you don’t like cheesy musicals, look away now! Because Curve’s new production of Hairspray is the epitome of a great cheesy night at the theatre –an all-singing, all-dancing, all-smiling extravaganza that is full of fun and not to be missed!
The Tony Award winning Hairspray tells the story of Tracy Turnblad, an overweight teen who loves to dance and longs to be famous. Her dream is to appear on the Corny Collins Show, and she secures a place, competing with rival Amber for both love (with heart throb Link Larkin), and the hotly contested title of Miss Teenage Hairspray. The big girl with a big heart wants to change the world, and with some help along the way, she attempts to integrate the TV channel and change the racial status quo of 1960s Baltimore.
The musical comedy took a little while to find its feet and some of the jokes seemed slightly lost at the beginning but despite a weaker opening, once the actors warmed up and got going, there was no stopping them!
Comic timing improved as confidence grew, and the humour of the show really became its focus. From the cheeky innuendos to the brilliant one-liners, there were some hilarious moments that left the audience in raucous laughter. The cast’s energy grew with every high kick and high note, and Lee Proud’s slick choreography perfectly depicted the dance moves of an era that youngsters across the world would have attempted to emulate.
Directed by Curve veteran Paul Kerryson, one of the show’s strongest aspects was its vibrancy, both in the vivid set and the brightly coloured costumes, as well as the vocal richness. The contrast between soulful rhythm and blues and classic 1960s rock and roll music let the cast show off a range of voices, leading to moments of awe when the audience could not wait to begin cheering – a highlight was rousing number ‘Welcome to the 60s’.
Claudia Kariuki’s (Motor Mouth) rendition of the emotional “I know where I’ve been” provided a moving interlude between the humour, and served to reiterate the social commentary of the production. The set used multiple TV screens to add a nostalgic atmosphere of 60s adverts, whilst often reminding people to align the fictional story with history through the use of real photographs.
Hairspray featured a strong ensemble, and the principals were all convincing in their roles, playing up to the exaggeratedly funny style of the production expertly. The real star of the show for me was Zizi Strallen. Her performance as Tracy’s goofy friend Penny Pingleton was comedy gold, and it was hard not to watch her on stage, from the painfully awkward dancing to the outrageous flirting.
With a strong cast and the feel good factor, Hairspray will have you tapping your feet in the first half, and desperate to get on stage and join in the dancing by the end of the second – a musical that would leave anyone with a smile on their faces!
Hairspray continues its run at Curve until 5 April 2014. For tickets go to www.curveonline.co.uk/hairspray or contact the Box Office on 0116 242 3595.