Review: Hairspray, Buxton Opera House

Quite how I have managed to get this far in my life without seeing the musical Hairspray I don’t know, but that was the case until last night.

On the plus side it meant I could enjoy it with fresh eyes and ears, but on the minus side I wasn’t able to join in with the singing – unlike just about everyone else. Well not at first anyway, I have to confess by the end of the show I was up dancing with the rest of the audience and like them left Buxton Opera House beaming all over my face.

Whether you are a huge Hairspray fan or a first-timer you can’t fail to love this sparkling version of the smash-hit musical, directed by Paul Kerryson, the executive director of Buxton Opera House.

The stage was an explosion of colour with the slickest of dance routines and spine-tingling singing from a well-rehearsed, professional team.

Their timing was impeccable and their energy seemingly inexhaustible.

The voice of Motormouth Maybelle played by X Factor star Brenda Edwards was outstanding and she deserved the plaudits she received from the audience.

The dynamic dance moves of Layton Williams, who played Seaweed, were equally as enthralling and left us all open-mouthed in awe.

However it was Rebecca Mendoza, playing the lead Tracy Turnblad, who was the star of the show. It is hard to believe this tour is her debut professional performance. She must be destined to be a big star of the stage and I hope I can one day tell my grandchildren I watched Rebecca in her first show.

If you’re not wise to the plot of this feel-good musical then you need to know that it is set in the 60s where Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, is on a mission to follow her dreams.

She sets out to dance her way on to The Corny Collins TV show with The Nicest Kids In Town.

Tracy is a larger-than-life optimist who is not prepared to let a little thing like size stand in her way, despite the put downs of the bitchy blonde teenager Amber and her venomous mother Velma Von Tussle.

Tracy’s audition makes her a local star and soon she is using her new-found fame to fight for equality, bagging heartthrob Link Larkin (Amber’s boyfriend) along the way.

She sets about overturning the rules that black dancers are only allowed on the show on special days and finds herself in prison in the process.

Obviously, as with all such American tales, good will overcome evil in the end and this ultimate feel-good show is one that you should catch if you can before the tour is over.

It is on at Buxton until October 28. It will be at Sheffield in January, Nottingham in February and Manchester in March. Go to http://www.hairsprayuktour.com for more details. For tickets to Buxton go to http://www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk

The rest of the main cast are Matt Rixon, as Edna Turnblad; Norman Pace, Wilbur Turnblad; Gina Murray, Velma Von Tussle; Jon Tsouras, Corny Collins; Edward Chitticks, Link Larkin; Aimee Moore, Amber Von Tussle and Annalise Liard-Bailey, Penny Pingleton.

The choreography was by Drew McOnie, the musical supervisor was Ben Atkinson, the set and costume design was by Takis, the lighting by Philip Gladwell and the sound by Ben Harrison.

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