03/03/13 - Hairspray UK Tour at Hull New Theatre

Anyone who knows me, knows what a sucker I am for musical theatre - the cheesier the better.  So I was in my element when I went to see the current UK tour of 'Hairspray' with a group from my university's Performing Arts Society, of which I am Social Sec.  I love going to the theatre in any situation, but with something like Hairspray, it's best to go with people who will be willing to sing and dance along with you.  And in that respect, I definitely made the right choice of theatre partners. 

The show itself was everything I had hoped.  It was colourful, camp and everyone left the theatre with a beaming smile on their face with sore hands from clapping along with the finale.  I'm a big fan of the film and the music but had never seen the stage show before, so when I saw the production was touring, I knew I had to go!  Behind the glittery costumes, the exaggerated comedy acting and the energetic dance routines is a very touching story which deals with all kinds of important issues.

In 1962 Baltimore, 'pleasantly plump' and idealistic Tracy Turnblad dreams of becoming a dancer on the cheesy Corny Collins Show.  Not only does she struggle against the sizeist attitudes holding her back from TV fame, she takes on the monumental task of attempting to integrate the black and white dancers at the height of the American Civil Rights movement.  Not bad for a teenager who wants to grow up to be "the first woman President...or a Rockette!"

The only really big names in this production were Waterloo Road actor Mark Benton who donned housecoat and blonde wig of Tracy's larger-than-life mother Edna (who was much better than expected him to be), and X-Factor finalist Marcus Collins making his professional theatre debut as Seaweed J. Stubbs, the coolest of Patterson Park High's black dancers.  While some people were initially sceptical, Collins definitely proved that he was cast through talent rather than the need for another celebrity name on the posters.  His performance was fun and energetic, and I can definitely see him bringing his smooth voice and sensational dance moves to other musical theatre productions in future.  And it's always great to see a Scouse lad taking the UK by storm!

Overall, it was a wonderful feel-good performance and the final song 'You Can't Stop The Beat' had everyone standing, clapping and dancing...led, of course, by the Performing Arts Society, who were some of the first to start the standing ovation.  The show-stopping dance numbers are interspersed with hilarious dialogue and some truly inspirational themes.  If you're interested in seeing the touring production, check out the website and see when it's coming to your local theatre!  I would seriously recommend it.  

Not a great photo, but Lauren and I thought we would
make a wonderful Edna and Tracy pairing!
Have you ever seen Hairspray onstage?  What did you think?

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