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Published by: Cameron Lowe on 15th Mar 2013 | View all blogs by Cameron Lowe
Review by Graham Clark

Hairspray the MusicalIt was an appointment not to be missed as this uplifting and entertaining musical rolled into Bradford. The musical is set in Baltimore in 1962 and the theme is” Integration, not Segregation” as the story does have an important message about civil rights in the early sixties in America.

The story starts off with Tracy Turnblad (portrayed superbly by Freya Sutton) looking like a (larger) Sixties version of Katy Perry.  She is talent spotted on the TV programme, The Corny Collins Show. The show is a glossy affair but all the people who are on the show are middle class white Americans with the black youngsters dancing at the back; that is until Tracy speaks out for racial integration.

Mark BentonTracey’s mother, Edna is played with passion by Mark Benton who could pass for a good pantomime dame. It is a role that Michael Ball has played in the past and it is one that has to be played with comedy. Benton pulls it off easily.

Lucy Benjamin played a larger than life performance as Velma Von Tussle, the over powering mother who tries to get her daughter Amber (Gemma Sutton) crowned Miss Hairspray.

There was even a mock Supremes trio in the musical, dressed in red sparkly dresses who sang Welcome to the 60’s as girl trio, The Dynamites.

Sadly X Factor contestant Marcus Collins was too ill to perform but understudy Fela Lufadeju played a strong performance as Seaweed J Stubbs.
Sandra Marvin (Motormouth Maybelle) has a powerful voice and this is witnessed on I Know Where I’ve Been, when the voice you are hearing could easily give the likes of Beyonce a run for her money.

With Tracy winning on two counts; winning the contest of Miss Hairspray 1962 and winning the right to get black people on to the Corny Collins Show, the musical does have an uplifting feel about it, albeit with an important social message. The songs may not be well known but when you hear them they sound like your old favourites. The show ended to a standing ovation as the energetic cast danced and sang to You Can’t Stop The Beat.

A feel good show that put some colour and energy back into what would otherwise have been a dreary winter’s night. Definitely a show to go out of your way to see.


12 - 23 March 2013
Alhambra Theatre

Tickets £19.50 - £45.00



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