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Hairspray the Musical at The Edinburgh Playhouse

Published by: Cameron Lowe on 9th Sep 2013 | View all blogs by Cameron Lowe
Hairspray the Musical

Welcome to the Sixties! Musical theatre’s most colourful and energetic touring production reached Edinburgh as HAIRSPRAY The Musical exploded onto the Playhouse stage with its trademark fun, verve and HUGE hairdoooos!!

For many, Hairspray epitomises a great night out at the theatre. The show is full of laughs, love, heartthrobs, catchy tunes and a couple of characters that you love to hate. The sixties setting provides a great opportunity to go overboard on zany costumes and scenery and there are more high energy chorus and dance numbers than you can shake a sixties stick at.

It’s 1962 and larger than life (in more ways than one) teen, Tracy Turnblad (Freya Sutton), dreams of appearing on the Corny Collins Show – Baltimore’s TV Dance sensation. Her (even larger) mother, Edna (Mark Benton), tries to keep her feet on the ground as she knows that “people like us don’t get on TV”. Determined to achieve her goal, Tracy learns some cool dance moves from her friend Seaweed (Adrian Hansel) but realises that she can never dance with Seaweed on TV because he is black and segregation is the norm in 1962. Tracy sets out to change all that …

Cultural change on racial segregation sounds like a heavy backdrop for a musical, but the innocence of Tracy’s character keeps the story lighter than light and the race issue only serves to identify who the ‘bad guys’ are in the tale. The overwhelming joy of the show comes from the sheer energy of it. Two huge song and dance chorus numbers are delivered before the first word of dialogue and the pace never lets up from the “Good Morning Baltimore” opener to the “You Can’t Stop The Beat” finale with every number in between a sure fire HIT.

Colourful costumes from William Ivey Long complimented whacky set design from David Rockwell. Director, Jack O’Brien, made the most of the contrasts of casting as contrast was a clear theme throughout. Tracy was big while her friend Penny (Lauren Hood) was skinny. Edna was tall while husband, Wilbur (Paul Rider), was small and this physicality was used to great comic effect.

Freya SuttonOn stage, newcomer Freya Sutton carried the narrative well and delivered a superb all round performance with a high energy level which shows no sign of flagging on this extensive tour. Double acts from Mark Benton / Paul Rider and Lucy Benjamin / Gemma Sutton (as the “we love to hate them” Von Tussles) produced some great entertainment with support from a fantastic ensemble cast. Lauren Hood was excellent as skinny pal, Penny. But the “blow your socks off” credit must be attributed to the incredible vocal talents of Sandra Marvin as Motormouth Maybelle. Her rendition of “I Know Where I’ve Been” had the entire audience wondering where their socks had gone at the end of the night. She nailed the ‘money note’ 8 bars from the end and the audience couldn’t help but clap and cheer all the way through the final harmonies. Amazing.

Beg, borrow or steal to get a ticket to see this show before it leaves Edinburgh on 14th September. The tour continues to Aberdeen and Norwich. You can’t stop the beat!

HAIRSPRAY – The Musical

Tue 3 – Sat 14 Sept

Tue – Sat eves 7.30pm

Wed & Sat mats 2.30pm

Tickets: £22.40 - £52.40

Box Office 0844 871 3014 (Bkg fee) (bkg fee)



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