I was glad not to miss this feel-good, vibrant, colourful, brilliantly paced musical entertainment for the whole family.
‘Hairspray’ the American musical (music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman (book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan) ran for 2,500 performances on Broadway from 2002 to 2009 and 1000 more in London’s West End from 2007 to 2010. It picked up prestigious awards both sides of the Atlantic. A film version of the musical was made in 2007, completing a circular history because the musical is based on an original 1968 film by John Waters. The production at the New Victoria, Woking, is part of a tour by Curve, a British theatre company, and Just for Laughs Theatricals.
Along with its spritzy romantic froth and non-stop music and fun the musical carries a more serious message about racism among some Americans, still rife in the 1960’s, 100 years on from the emancipation of American slaves.
This production is superb, a non-stop pageant of song, humour and breath-taking dancing, especially from the male dancers. The songs include 1960s-style dance music and "downtown" rhythm and blues, the costumes are dazzling and the ensemble scenes are a riot of colour and co-ordinated choreography.
Memorable moments for me also include the triple mother-daughter duets, “Mama I’m a Big Girl Now” in the first act, and the set piece in which Tracy’s parents, Edna and Wilbur (Matt Rixon and Peter Duncan) tell each other “You’re Timeless to Me”. As a romantic interlude between a pantomime dame and her vertically challenged husband, this is irrestistibly funny, and also strangely touching.
The message of this show is timeless: it’s not looks that matter, but talent and respect for other people. And love conquers racism and bigotry.
Janice Windle 15/03/16