I was a little uncertain about going to see Hairspray the the Theatre Royal, I mean, I really enjoyed the film, but upon being asked by someone who was in this particular production (i.e. anyone famous), I said “nobody”. The performance was being performed by the Nottingham Operatic Society – I was sure they are good at carol concerts etc. but a musical theatre production? I was sceptical and had no idea what to expect.
Most people know the story of Hairspray – if not from the original film in the 80’s then maybe it’s run on Broadway or more recently the film remake in 2007 (doesn’t seem that long ago!). The recent film version featured big names such as John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer and heartthrob Zac Efron.
Set in 1962 Baltimore – tubby teen Tracy Turnblad (Aston Fisher) and her bumbling best friend Penny Pingleton (Lauren Gill) dream of being dancers on their favourite show ‘The Corny Collins Show’. When they go to audition, Tracy is teased by spiteful teen Amber Von Tussle (Lizzy Ives) and her wicked mother Velma Von Tussle (Alison Hope). Velma is the show’s boss and tells Tracy in no uncertain terms that Tracy will never be a dancer because of her weight, crushing Tracy’s dancing dreams of being on the show and of getting close to the show’s handsome dancer (and Amber’s boyfriend) Link Larkin (Jacob Seelochan). Events soon follow which leads to Tracy and Penny meeting new friends, a group of black people who teach Tracy new dance moves which enable her to earn a place on the show and see her popularity soar.
Tracy’s horrified to learn that her new friends Seaweed (Aadyl Muller), his little sister Little Inez (Grace Louise Hodgett-Young) and their sassy mother Motormouth Maybelle (Janine Nicole Jaques) are only allowed to dance on the show on ‘Negro Day’ and not take part in the Mother and Daughter dance. Tracy then tries to start a movement which will see The Corny Collins Show become a fully integrated show.
I am completely willing to admit when I am wrong – and I was wrong with my initial expectations of this musical production. The whole entire cast smashed it! There was great acting all round, amazing voices and full on entertainment from start to finish. Grace Louise Hodgett-Young’s voice was astounding and I wish we had been able to hear more of it, she is a superstar in the making. Aston Fisher as Tracy was great casting for the lead and Lauren Gill played Penny perfectly. Aadyl as Seaweed was as smooth and cool as his dance moves and had me wanting to join in with his hip sways.
I have to say, my favourite scenes by far were the ones with Tracy’s parents – Wilbur (Ian Pottage) and Edna Turnblad (Dan Armstrong). The role of Edna is traditionally played by a man and Dan was absolutely superb, great comedic timing and perfect in partnership with Ian – watch out Morecambe and Wise!
This production is described on the front of the programme as an “amateur production”, this was by no mean amateur. Every singer smashed the musical numbers, kept the audience captured and the theatre was a full house. Nottingham Operatic Society are awesome at what they do, I can’t wait to see their next production.
Good – Great cast, fun set, brilliant atmosphere
Bad – The odd forgotten line
Set – 8/10