Big hair and even bigger voices! This is a beat that you won’t be able to stop and it’s only just getting started!
If you ask anyone that knows me, one of my biggest passions in life is equality. Whether it’s to do with LGBT+, age, sex, size, race, religion, dress sense… all of it! I’ve always said, as long as you’re a decent human being and you’re not hurting anyone, nothing else matters. So, naturally, the first time I saw Hairspray when I was younger, I fell in love with it. The way the musical is able to use such a creative and fun way to educate people at the same time is brilliant and leaves everyone feeling uplifted and hopeful.
Only a day after opening night (in sunny Cardiff no less!) and the cast were truly on point! It seemed like they were in a comfortable routine that normally doesn’t happen until a few weeks into a show. With Rebecca Mendoza playing the sensational ‘Tracy Turnblad’, she managed to capture the essence of the character completely, the cheesiness, the talent, the energy! She sure did deliver and had me grinning through her performance. She really did shine brightly as the star of the show and came across as very genuine in her portrayal of Tracy.
Gina Murray may have played the unlikable ‘Velma Von Tussle’, but boy can she sing! She continued to treat the audience to her powerful voice throughout. One of my favourite moments was when she actually came into the audience, as though we were the audience for the fictional ‘Corny Collins’ show, and was gliding up and down the rows telling us ‘Do NOT enjoy this!’ when the interracial dancing began, which was of course, very in character of her. I must admit, although I’m not always the biggest fan of audience participation (to me, it feels like that alarming moment when a teacher is threatening to pick someone to answer a question and you’re being very quiet and pretending you don’t exist) but when someone includes the audience as a whole and breaks the fourth wall, I kinda dig it to be honest.
Matt Rixon as ‘Edna Turnblad’ and Norman Pace as ‘Wilbur Turnblad’ were pure comic gold together. There is genuinely no other way to describe them. The comic timing and delivery, the obvious chemistry and the pure experienced talent really did their characters justice. Even through a couple of small stumbles and mistakes they worked so well together that I doubt many noticed and if they did, the fact both men recovered and made it a part of the act (and incredibly funny) speaks volumes about their talent.
The cast as rather big and if I mentioned everyone you’d be reading this until tomorrow, but all I can say is, anyone attending one of the shows on this tour is truly lucky to have such an amazing and talented cast portraying some classic characters and each person really did fit their role to a T and poured all of their energy into their performance. Phenomenal singing and dancing from all involved!
As a film and TV graduate, I tend to notice nuances that others don’t always in the shows I attend and one of those nuances? The lighting. Kudos to Philip Gladwell on this genius and naturally fluid set up. He managed to make 3 separate scenes (all on the stage at one time) flow so easily between each other with the use of lighting, shining don on the scene the audience needed to focus on as the other scenes were in shadow with the actors quietly carrying on in the background. I also loved the use of lighting during the Corny Collins show when everyone was dancing, the brilliant scenes when Gina Murray was singing (especially when the lighting turned red) and it really did make it all come together so beautifully.
Another thing my attention to detail eyes caught was the set. I think I can honestly say, of all the sets on stage I’ve seen in the past few years, this is possibly one of my favourites. It’s so practical! It looks good, it moves easily and it works well with all of the scenes. There were two ‘buildings’ either side of the stage that had ‘brick walls’ rising with a small stage that could be pushed out onto the main stage and pulled back in easily as the brick wall lowered itself again. This was especially useful for creating rooms in peoples houses and shops and even when having more than one scene going on at once on the stage.
All I have left to say about Hairspray is…why are you still reading this? Go and buy your tickets now! You won’t regret it and you’ll have a brilliant, fun and uplifting night out! Althought, you probably won’t be able to get ‘You can’t Stop the Beat’ out of your head for a few days…
Tickets are available on the Wales Millennium Centre with shows until the 12th of August – Tickets!
Rating – ★★★★★/5
Special thanks to the WMC for providing press tickets.
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