18-23 August 2014
Reviewed by Susan Haigh
Well, that’s pretty much the most fun you can have on a Monday night without finding yourself in Baltimore’s women’s house of detention!
I’m writing this review still buzzing from tonight’s performance of Hairspray at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage. It was a full house and I can safely say that there were toes tapping and tunes being hummed throughout the packed auditorium as we were all transported back to 1962 and the world of Tracy Turnblad and her friends… and enemies.
I’m probably one of the few people out there who has never seen Hairspray either on stage or screen so I came along tonight not really know what to expect. What I saw was a professional, polished and thoroughly enjoyable show with lots of real belly laughs thanks to some standout performances.
For those of you who don’t know it, the story takes Tracy from her humble beginnings as an overweight teenager who dreams of dancing on TV’s premier music show and turns her into a confident and sassy star who helps to end the racial segregation and discrimination that was still rife in Baltimore at that time.
Francesca Fenech, as Tracy, is brilliant in the role and brings to life a small-town girl whose dreams of hitting the big time finally come true. I particularly liked her chemistry with the show’s heart-throb Link Larkin (Simon Anthony) and the relationship she has with her shy and retiring(!) mother Edna, played with gusto and a hefty fake bosom by Daniel Page.
Hairspray’s songs are super catchy and sung spectacularly – special mention to Linda John-Pierre for bringing soul, pathos and a belting voice to Mama Motormouth Maybell. The entire ensemble cast gave really excellent performances with both vocals and dancing being top notch, although at times I did struggle to make out what TV host Corny Collins was saying.
It’s a terrifically fun show to watch and it’s fantastic to see all the actors genuinely enjoying themselves on stage. A little improv moment during Mr and Mrs Turnblad’s big number had the pair both struggling to keep a straight face and the audience laughing along with them!
It’s a great show – with all the glitz and atmosphere you’d expect from the West End. The Gordon Craig itself is a lovely theatre. Comfortable seats, unobstructed views and lots of legroom; plus the bar is well staffed so you don’t spend the interval queuing for drinks.
Hairspray is at the Gordon Craig until Saturday 23 August and I’d heartily recommend you go and see it. Just remember to take your dancing shoes – you’ll need them at the end!
Tickets cost from £18 to £21.50. Family Ticket £60.
For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 01438 363200.
Stevenage Arts & Leisure Centre, Lytton Way, Stevenage, Herts, SG1 1LZ | 01438 363200