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5th November 2015

Review: Hairspray

Paul Kerryson’s Hairspray comes to Manchester’s Palace Theatre

With an explosion of colour and music, Paul Kerryson’s Hairspray opened its doors to Manchester on the 26th of November. With a stellar cast including Tracey Turnblad veteran Freya Sutton and X Factor’s Brenda Edwards, the opening night was a sell-out.

Directed by Paul Kerryson and choreographed by Drew McOnie, the tour will visit a total of 29 venues in the UK across a 40-week span. Cast also include Benidorm’s Tony Maudsley as Edna Turnblad, Jon Tsouras as Corny Collins and Bad Education’s Layton Williams.

For those who don’t know, Hairspray centres on Tracey Turnblad, a “larger than life” optimist in the middle of 60s Baltimore, America. Obsessed with all things dance, Link Larkin, and gravity-defying hair, she’s on a mission to follow her dreams whilst at the same time tackling issues such as racism and body image.

Producer Mark Goucher states, “I believe theatre has an obligation to both educate and entertain.” Although Hairspray itself is marketed as a musical comedy Goucher believes that “the message of striving to break down prejudice in all walks of life shines through.

“We still experience racism. Women are still extremely conscious of body issues and we all need to strive for greater tolerance in every area of life.” Attacking issues such as racism and body image, the show is successful to a certain extent, but they could have done a lot more with it. The plot is more pantomime than hard-hitting musical.

Brenda Edwards stole the show as Motormouth Maybelle with her song ‘I Know Where I’ve Been’, which was easily rewarded with the loudest round of applause of the night.

Providing some light relief to the narrative was Tracey Penn who shouldn’t go without note. Credited as the ‘female authority figure’, Penn gives us the brilliant prison officer and PE teacher whose deep voice and array of facial expressions injected some arguably needed slapstick comedy into the scenes.

Hairspray will remain in Manchester until the 31st, and continue to:

Wimbledon: 2nd – 7th of November
Bradford: 9th – 14th of November
Southampton: 16th – 21st of November
Ipswich: 23rd – 28th of November
Brighton: 30th of November – 12th of December
Birmingham: 14th of December – 2nd of January
Newcastle: 18th – 30th of January
Aberdeen: 1st – 6th of February
Sheffield: 8th – 13th of February
Cambridge: 15th – 20th of February
Edinburgh: 22nd – 27th of February
Oxford: 29th of February – 5th of March
Bristol: 7th – 12th of March
Woking: 14th – 19th of March
Cardiff: 21st – 26th of March
Norwich: 28th of March – 2nd of April
Milton Keynes: 4th – 9th of April
Leeds: 11th – 16th of April
Plymouth: 18th – 23rd of April
Stoke: 25 – 30th of April
Bromley: 2nd – 7th of May
Canterbury: 9th – 14th of May
Southend 16th – 21st of May

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