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Hairspray, Birmingham Hippodrome - review and pictures

By Jessica Labhart | Theatre & Comedy | Published:

It was full of flare, sequins, colour and of course hairspray as this acclaimed Broadway musical rolled into Birmingham on a dreary Monday night.

Hairspray at Birmingham Hippodrome

Baltimore in 1962 is not necessarily the first place you think of when you consider first class dancing and even better singing.

But last night's Hippodrome performance was a vintage triumph that not only addressed issued surrounding the American Civil Rights Movement but was victorious in expressing universal feelings of teenage inadequacy and isolation.

What the production did so well was to bring issues surrounding integration in the 60s to the forefront in a way that was accessible and admittedly palatable to the audience.

The dancing and the singing, the characterisation and the unity of the performers brought the audience together.

Rebecca Mendoza as Tracy Turnblad was incredible with an infectious rhythm and an all too relatable obsessive teenage crush.

Pal Penny Pingleton played by Annalise Liard-Bailey also came into her own next to the impressive back-flipping Seaweed played by Layton Williams.

The vocal stand-out was of course Brenda Edwards, who took on the role as Motormouth Maybelle - though the glittering trio in the first half came a close second.

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See the trailer for the show here:

Hairspray Trailer

Velma Von Tussel, played by Gina Murray, and her equally irritating daughter Amber, played by Aimee Moore, were the perfect counterpoint to the positivity - modern-day prejudiced and racist villains with a painful sense of entitlement.

But for both my mother and I who had ventured to Birmingham especially for this show, the favourites were the incomparable Edna Turnblad, played by Matt Rixon, and long-suffering/loving husband Wilbur, played by Norman Pace.

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Their connection, sincerity and comedic delivery was touching whilst their singing and dancing was impeccable and relatable.

The show was brought together by the awe-inspiring cinematic music which brought the colourful sets to life as they popped forward and backward throughout giving actors the space for both trio and duet performances as well as striking ensemble work and solos.

Indeed, there was something for everyone in this show. From the political to the social, from the teenage to the middle-aged, it was much deeper than it let on but was as strong and as durable as, well (forgive me), hairspray.

Runs at the Hippodrome until October 14.

For more on the show, or to book tickets, click here

Jessica Labhart

By Jessica Labhart
@JLabhart_star

Reporter for the Express & Star, primarily covering Wolverhampton.

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