HAIRSPRAY: Mark O’Donnell, Thomas Meehan, Marc Shaiman
On Tour till 29 09 13
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, Birmingham Hippodrome, 22 05 13
In great shape, joyous and powerful.
This has to be one of the feel-good shows to end all feel-good shows. Out on tour again, audiences young and old are mentally bouncing along to the tunes and the younger audience members cheering the good guys on to boot. But you don’t get this feel good by accident.
The whole company, with energy and all-singing-dancing-acting skills inject the show with great good humour. They are ably led by Freya Sutton (chubby girl Tracy Turnblad); Sutton creates a feisty character it’s impossible not to adore. Tracy’s even more chubby mum is a great accomplice to Sutton in Mark Benton’s creation.
Everywhere you go in this show, of course, there are larger than life characters. Tracy’s bosom pal, Penny Pingleton, is fabulously created by Lauren Hood, who has comedy in every cell of her body; she is perfectly partnered by Marcus Collins’s charming Seaweed.
Both the cartoon style sets (David Rockwell) and bright costumes (William Ivey Long) add to the general joyous spirit and Jerry Mitchell’s choreography is particularly sharp – and sharply executed.
Musical highspots? – Every moment someone sings – but my special favourite, I KNOW WHERE I’VE BEEN, passionately led by Motormouth (Sandra Marvin).
This is a special show; but what makes it remarkably special is the way three major socio-political themes are aired in it – anti-racism, women’s empowerment, and fat is a feminist issue (how many remember that!) And the joy is that, in particular, the young people in the audience, respond enthusiastically to all three. Maybe the world is getting a better place, after all.
MARK BENTON: Edna Turnblad
LUCY BENJAMIN: Velma Von Tussle
MARCUS COLLINS: Seaweed
FREYA SUTTON: Tracy Turnblad
LUKE STRIFFLER: Link Larkin
SANDRA MARVIN: Motormouth Maybelle
JOSH PITERMAN: Corny Collins
PAUL RIDER: Wilbur Turnblad
LAUREN HOOD: Penny Pingleton
GEMMA SUTTON: Amber Von Tussle
WENDY SOMERVILLE: Female Authority Figure
DANIEL STOCKTON: Male Authority Figure
GABRIELLE BROOKS: Inez
AMELIA ADAMS-PEARCE: Lou-Ann
JOCASTA ALMGILL: Peaches (Dynamite)
LORI BARKER: Cindy (Dynamite)
PIERS BATE: Brad
ARUN BLAIR-MANGAT: Swing
SOPHIA BROWN: Pearl (Dynamite)
ANDREW BRYANT: IQ
GEORGIA CARLING: Swing
RHIANNON CHESTERMAN: Shelly
MARK HILTON: 2nd Edna/ 1st Wilbur/ 1st Male Authority Figure cover
FRANCESCA HOFFMAN: Tammy
SAMANTHA HULL: Brenda
CLAUDIA KARIUKI: Lorraine
LEWIS KIRK: Fender
SAM LATHWOOD: Assistant Dance Captain/Swing
FELA LUFADEJU: Duane
SIMONE MISTRY-PALMER: Swing
NIKKI POCKLINGTON: Walking Tracy Cover
NATHANIEL MORRISON: Gilbert
DAVID RIBI: Sketch
NOEL SAMUELS: Thad
LAURA THOROGOOD: Dance Captain/Swing
Directed by: Jack O’Brien
Choreography: Jerry Mitchell
Set Design: David Rockwell
Costume Design: William Ivey Long
Lighting Design: Kenneth Posner
Sound Design: Steve C Kennedy