Thursday, 18 April 2013


At the moment I have to say I am a bit of a busy bee. I have four 3rd year university essays to complete by Monday which I only started (stupidly) on Sunday so am a bit pushed for time. But when I saw that Hairspray was in Southampton, I could not resist. It was one of my favourite movies when it came out, back in 2007 and I just had to see how well it transferred to stage (having missed the boat while it was in the West End). Luckily for me though, the tour meant that I had a west end cast right on my doorstep and to say I am glad that I went is a huge understatement.

Hairspray is the perfect feel good musical. Vibrant, colourful, unfailingly cheerful it is perfect for anyone (like me) who is a little stressed and in need of a brain break. I was expecting it to be good but I wasn't expecting to feel so chilled and happy after it. Saying that, I was also slightly exhausted. The dances were energetic and never ending, switching from one crazily full on routine to the next, coupled with wordy songs. I am surprised that the cast weren't on the floor by the end.

I honestly can't fault the cast. Normally there are one or two who stand out but this time, I literally couldn't say just one. I have never seen such a coordinated cast who were so in sync with each other and all to a similarly high standard. The lead, Freya Sutton was fresh and perfect, all the more impressive as it was her musical debut. Luke Strifer and Josh Piterman (playing Link Larkin and Corny Collins respectively) were wonderfully handsome living up to Zac Efron and James Marsden's standards. Mark Benton and Paul Rider (who played Edna and Wilbur Turnblad) were a perfect pairing, hilarious and well matched. I loved that Benton didn't try to make his voice female as John Travolta did instead embracing it's masculinity to add to comic effect. Lauren Hood (Penny Pingleton) was also very funny and her and Sutton bounced off each other perfectly. The inclusion of Marcus Collins playing Seaweed (who of course, was runner up on the Xfactor a couple of years ago) was one of the big selling points of the tour, attracting teenage girls far and wide. And he definitely didn't disappoint. His dancing was not quite as clean as some of the other west end stars but he was still great. And finally, Sandra Marvin (playing Motourmouth Maybelle) was fabulous. One of my favourite moments in the film is when Queen Latifah sings I Know Where You've Been. It is the one poignant ballad in the whole musical and brings home the seriousness of the topic of race, amongst all the dancing and cheerfulness and I didn't think that anyone could sing with quite the same emotion. But I was wrong. Marvin played this perfectly and her assured quotes encouraging perseverance for equality are still relevant today.

There were some great new additions, in terms of songs, to the musical but the only thing which disappointed me a little bit was the lack of the dance routine in miss Baltimore crabs, and also the way it was sung by Lucy Benjamin. She didn't have the same authority and airy snobbery that Michelle Pfeiffer had in the film. On top of this I wasn't impressed by the deletion of New Girl in Town which was one of my favourite songs in the film. But this was more than made up for by Don't Stop the Beat which was absolutely fantastic. Despite these very small criticisms, I couldn't have asked for a better time really. It is the ultimate feel good musical and you will leave just wanting to sing and dance. There's still months of the tour left going all around the country so make sure you go see it.

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