Reviewed by Claire Turner
Last night we were taken back to Baltimore in 1962 for Hairspray the Musical! We met Tracy Turnblad (played by Rebecca Mendoza) a big girl with even bigger hair who is on a mission to dance her way onto national television on the Corny Collins Show. Tracy’s audition turns her into a local star and she uses her new-found fame to fight for equality, bagging local heart-throb Link Larkin (played by Edward Chitticks) along the way.
Tracy vows to make every day on the Corny Collins Show Negro Day and not just once a month. Due to the colour segregation in Baltimore in the sixties, black and white teenagers weren’t allowed to be seen dancing together.
Right from the start the stage is a burst of colour and catchy songs. The cast whirl and leap their way through the show from the opening Good Morning Baltimore where Rebecca Mendoza held her own on the stage, to the marathon finale You Can’t Stop the Beat (which really is non-stop and gets the audience dancing & singing along).
Tracy’s parents, Edna and Wilbur, played by Matt Rixon and (understudy) Graham MacDuff delivered a brilliant duet that had them and us in tears of laughter. At times we wondered if they’d even make it to the end of their part through the laughter and ad-libs, but we cheered them on and they got there!
The relationship between Penny Pingleton, Tracy’s best friend played by Annalise Liard-Bailey, and Seaweed played by (understudy) Jordan Laviniere is integral to the storyline. As an inter-racial couple, the problems of segregation of the white and black communities of the day is a prominent subject.
I can’t leave this review without mentioning the vocals of Brenda Edwards, who plays Motormouth Maybelle, she has the wow-factor and the audience reward her with massive cheers for her incredible voice.
Southend’s Cliffs Pavilion is a great theatre to go to with lovely views over to Kent on a clear night. The tide was all the way out and the sun was just going down as we enjoyed a coffee and cake before watching the show.
A very deserving 5 stars from me!
Tickets cost from £27.50 to £50.50 (booking fees may apply).
Hairspray the musical is at the Cliffs Pavilion in Southend from 14-19 May 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit southendtheatres.org.uk or call the box office on 01702 351135.
Cliffs Pavilion, Station Road, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS0 7RA | 01702 351135