Hairspray Blackpool review: Uncertainty around another Christmas and Covid is left at the Opera House doors

Hairspray the Musical is big, it’s beautiful and it’s timeless to most.

Friday, 17th December 2021, 9:28 am

Actor John Thomson who this week made his debut as Wilbur Turnblad in the touring production says it was the ‘great fun’ of the musical that made it impossible to turn down.

And the show at Blackpool Opera House certainly lived up to the expectations for its arrival in the resort for the festive season.

Hairspray is a piece of musical magic that gives audiences a little bit of everything only live theatre can bring.

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Hairspray is wowing crowds in Blackpool

Laugh out loud moments, big and bold personalities, dazzling costumes, lively and energetic choreography and a dance a minute soundtrack wrapped up neatly in a heart-warming story of one girl’s big dreams and determination to change the world.

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To say her vocals hit the spot in the numbers Good Morning Baltimore would be an understatement. At times in one or two songs, it was quite breathy but it is little wonder given the dance delivery.

But this is one giant powerhouse of a cast, with talent stacked higher than those 60s updos and one you imagine still dancing long after the curtain and hair comes down. The energy this show requires from the opening can not be underestimated and yet there are so many stand out moments.

Brenda Edwards as Motormouth Maybell commands the stage in the emotional ‘I Know Where I’ve Been’ This is a lady with a voice to give you goosebumps and soul running through the bones. It’s a role Brenda embraces with heart and gives that true sense of feeling around those inter-racial struggles of America in the 1960s.

Hairspray despite its timeline is just as relevant in today’s society, shining a spotlight on prejudices that exist from the colour of your skin to body image and anything else not deemed picture perfect in a social media-led world.

But what the show does so well is create a unique sense of community within a room and a world of pure escapism. The bubbling uncertainty around another Christmas was left at the doors on Church Street.

There is little wonder Alex Bourne’s Edna Turnblad does not have the courage to step outside into the big bad world but I’m so glad we get given the chance to share hers, perfectly matched alongside John’s refreshing interpretation of Wilbur. This duo produce howls of laughter from the audience and their duet Timeless to Me is a highlight of the evening.

Mentions for Rebecca Jayne-Davies as Tracy’s goofy best friend Penny who also packed a punch vocally. A few lines failed to land in parts but come the finale it does not stop this well-fed crowd bopping along to You Can’t Stop the Beat. A roaring standing ovation is very much deserved.

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