From the opening number, ‘Good Morning Baltimore’, we are confronted with big hair, big dance routines, and loud costumes as Hairspray opened at SKYCITY Theatre. Get ready for some serious eye popping sets, and foot tapping numbers.
This ever popular musical follows the plump oddball teen Tracy Turnblad, whose dream is to dance on the Corny Collins TV Show. When she achieves her dream she is thrust into celebrity. She tries to make a difference in 1960’s America by fighting for integration on the TV show.
The story of Hairspray the musical started in 1988 with the film by John Waters, which starred Riki Lake and Debbie Harry. Opening in Broadway in 2002, Hairspray won 8 Tony Awards and ran for 2,500 performances. It’s no surprise that it remains such a popular show, and North Shore Music Theatre have done this upbeat and fun musical proud.
Heather Wilcock, as our hero Tracy Turnblad, had great fun with her role, giving the audience lots of tongue and cheek winks and nods. She really gives, as American’s say, 110% in her energetic pitch perfect performance. Her teenage crush on Link Larkin was hilarious, resulting in an excellent rendition of ‘I Can Hear The Bells’. She gives it all the broadway eyes and teeth, while totally owning those dance moves. Her friendship with Penny Pingleton, Stella Wilson-Staab, is fun and extra girly. Stella has a fair share of good one liners and playful flirting.
The villains of the piece are Velma and Amber Von Tussle, played by Stephanie Liebert and Alexandra Light. Try as they may they can’t defeat the Hairspray queen. The pushy mum and beauty queen wannabe are suitable vile, and manically neurotic.
Stealing the show vocally was former MaVelle member Lavina Williams, as the big, blonde and beautiful Motormouth Mabel. Her solo performances blew me away, especially during ‘I know Where I’ve Been’. She appeared to be soaking up the atmosphere with her performance. A real force to be reckoned with.
Tracy’s eccentric parents, Edna and Wilbur, provide for lots of comedic moments. The larger than life mother Edna was lovingly played by Russell Dixon. He embraces the character with gusto, enabling for comedy, innuendo and heart. Wilbur, played by David Adkins, is an eccentric joke shop owner whose love ,and indeed lust, for his wife is infectious and hilarious. One of the highlights of the night was their duet ‘(You’re) Timeless to Me’ which evoked roars of laughter and is, well, a total hoot! These two have great chemistry and ham it up perfectly.
Let’s not forget the boys. Luke Bird is totally hysterical in all his various guises throughout the show, wearing that ill-fitting suit to perfection. His Mr Pinky was also a joy to watch. Caleb Jago-Ward is the perfect teen heart throb who had a subtly in his performance that let’s us enjoy the jokes and cheesy looks. Andrew Allen’s Corny Collins epitomises the Hairspray glamour and kitsch playfulness. Josh Martin gyrates his way around the set with his co-stars, getting the party started and never dropping in enthusiasm.
This production of Hairspray is super slick, and just looks and sounds great thanks to the cast and strong ensemble. A fast pace, and flawless set changes mean it’s a feast for all the senses that doesn’t let up until you’ve danced up the aisles on your way out.
For a fun upbeat colourful break from winter, start teasing your hair and get some tickets to Hairspray.
Reviewed by Ingrid Grenar