The theme of “Hairspray” is quite simple: Just because people are different (size or colour) doesn’t mean you have to treat them differently – you should treat everyone the same. Set in 1962, Tracey, played by Rebecca Craven, first overcomes her size to become a dancer on a hit TV show, and then uses her new-found popularity to undermine the segregation of black and white dancers. A simple tale – but it was performed brilliantly.
The dancers and singers (often both) were first-class. With everyone playing their role so well, it is almost unfair to pick out individual contributions. But I have to say that Rebecca Craven as Tracey was outstanding. To my mind, from now on Rebecca will simply be “Tracey Turnblad”! Her breathless depiction of Tracey meeting her first boyfriend was particularly acute. Zizi Strallen actually had me in stitches laughing, and not just because she had many of the best lines. What most of the audience may be unaware of is that Zizi is one of the top dancers in the Country (have a look at this video clip). To watch her perform as Penny, complete with geeky dance moves (she reminded me of our boss dancing at the Christmas party!) and never coming out of character – even in the Finale – must have been nearly impossible. Yet Zizi did it so well it took us a moment to actually recognise her.
In fact my only ‘criticism’ of the Show was that there was so much going on. When Tracey first dances on television while Penny watches at home, both performances are hilarious – and I didn’t know which one to focus on. Mind you, that is just an excellent reason for going to see the show again. Oh, and one other criticism, I heard the lady on my left complain to her husband about the use of Hairspray aerosols – ‘what about the ozone layer?!’ Well of course the ozone layer was not a problem in 1962! This is how much the Show brings you into it.
David Witts is impossibly good looking as Link Larkin, Tracey’s first love, and the singers (led by Cleopatra Joseph) would be worth the price of a ticket on their own. You have a priceless comedy double-act in John Burr and Damian Williams as Tracey’s parents (you have to have seen it!). A special mention to Tyrone Huntley as Seaweed. I simply believed everything that he said. And you could sense this guy could really dance, if just given the chance. The orchestra were really on point, perhaps a little hidden away, and finally Callum Train perfectly embodied the progressive mindset of Corney Collins.
Quite rightly, there was a standing ovation from the audience – and this was a Wednesday matinee. I enjoyed it more than the West End Production at the Shaftesbury Theatre a few years ago – and I really enjoyed that.
I would just like to mention that we were so impressed by the Curve Theatre. I had never been there before and was aware of it only through its association with Drew McOnie, the future superstar of British Musical Theatre (watch his Show ‘Drunk’ – I did, twice!). But the Curve has been so well designed, that with Productions such as ‘Drunk’ and ‘Hairspray’, Leicester now has its own West End Theatre.
28th March 2014 By The Dincwear Team.