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Hairspray at Milton Keynes Theatre

Published by: Alison Smith on 10th Apr 2018 | View all blogs by Alison Smith


Hairspray at Milton Keynes Theatre

One of the producers of Hairspray, Mark Goucher, says’ theatre has an obligation to both educate and to entertain’.  And the educational message in Hairspray is as relevant in 2018 as in the original 1988 film – that segregation and intolerance are immoral and that differences, be they of skin colour or weight should be a cause for celebration. On the surface such issues would not seem to be elements of entertainment, but with creators of the calibre of Waters, O’Donnell, Shaiman and Whittman, Hairspray becomes outstanding entertainment.

 It is, above all, a feel - good musical; the main character Tracy Turnblad has not been endowed with the best physical accomplishments to become a dancer on the Corny Collins TV Show, but with youthful determination , optimism and a strong sense of right and wrong she succeeds, and, moreover, gets her man. It is a most pleasing example of the winning of good over evil, a battle accompanied with great dancing and music .Short, chubby Tracy (Rebecca Mendoza) with her school satchel is an unlikely heroine, but rather than change herself to fit in with the American ideals she changes the attitude of most of those around her; Collins says ‘put kids on the show who look like the kids who watch the show’ and as a result  the monthly Negro Day on his show is abolished and teenagers of all colours and sizes dance together. Hairspray is the professional debut for Rebecca Mendoza. She is almost continuously on stage and does not lose any dynamism throughout her performance.

The musicality of all the performers is exceptional, but most notable is Brenda Edwards with her rich powerful voice. She excels in I know Where I’ve Been – a story of hope, tinged with great sadness. And the Dynamite Trio – Emily-Mae, Melissa Nettleford and Lauren Concannon - in Welcome to the 60s are as good as the Supremes. The dancing is uplifting, but the prize for flexibility and athleticism must be awarded to Seaweed (Layton Williams), who back-flipped across the stage with ease.

The ‘different ’relationships of the characters play an important role in the musical –  especially that of Edna Turnblad  the overlarge, agoraphobic wife of the weedy Wilbur. Their well- practised ad-libbing caused hilarity in the audience and their good natured relationship caused, I feel sure, envy. Penny and Seaweed, Tracy and Link are also examples of how external appearances have little effect on love.

The setting is simple – the streets of Baltimore in the main; the lighting and wardrobe colourful and the band tucked in at the back played the rhythm and blues numbers with expertise and gusto. The choreography was impressive and the vocal numbers great. Hairspray is a wonderful evening’s entertainment of music and dance together with a thought provoore in the main; the lighting  'reography was impressive and the vocal numbers great. A wonderful evenong'de of most of those wking message.

 Hairspray is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 14th April 

0844 871 7652

 Booking fee applies




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