Review: Hairspray at the Bristol Hippodrome

Posted on Mar 6 2018 - 5:39pm by Claire Herbaux
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Oh, gosh, where to start? So many highlights!

Quick introduction should you not know what we are talking about: Hairspray, the musical, opened at the Bristol Hippodrome and is running until the end of the week.

It’s the story of Tracy Turnblad, whose dream of being on the show on Baltimore television, The Corny Collins Show, unexpectedly becomes true. It’s the 60s and plump Tracy looks almost as out of place on television as her black friends who taught her the moves which got her on the show. But she wants to take it one step further and get her minority friends on television and dance together.

Now there is no fair way to list all the highlights and giving everyone a fair credit and not putting any performance first or last, so we will simply have to start at the beginning:

Rebecca Mendoza made her professional debut as Tracy Turnblad and sold us from the first song when she wakes up and gets out of bed. Throughout the show she is funny and leads us into her dream-becomes-reality world without ever disappointing.

Which brings us straight to the second highlight, which technically already happened before the show started: It was great to see how many parents chose to bring their children (girls, mostly) to this particular show. Not only will they have enjoyed the singing and dancing, but  hopefully they will have taken away a lesson on following theirs dreams and standing up for what is right.

The set was simple, but very well done and stood out as being in sync with the songs from start when Tracy, her best friend Penny (Annalise Liard-Bailey) and Amber von Tussle (Aimee Moore) sing Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now, each in their own corner of the stage, with their own mum.

When Tracy ends up in detention, the real dance-off begins. We have seen The Corny Collins Show but her new friends show her new moves and when the entire cast starts to dance it is always a highlight!

And in comes… Layton Williams and Seaweed. For those of you who remember the BBC comedy Beautiful People, he was Kylie. He has been in a number of productions since he was a teen, but seeing him all grown up and still pirouetting around was definitely a highlight for me! (Yes, feel free to go home and watch the show again, it’s heartwarming to know little Kylie is now still on stage and dancing.)

His mum on the show, Motormouth Maybelle, is just as impressive. With every song, every word, even every note she sang, you seemed to stopped breathing for a moment, simply taking in her fantastic voice. You have to hear it to believe it.

And what you had to see to believe, was You’re Timeless To Me, the duett between Tracy’s parents (Matt Rixon and Wilbur Turnblad). A mix of planned and unplanned comedy had the entire audience in stitches and it seemed at times it would be the one song everyone would remember from the show!

But everyone came for the big musical ensemble numbers – and we got them. To the very end – even after they took their bow – the cast impressed us with the colourful and upbeat dances, summersaults and fantastic music. So thank you for a brilliant evening!

Hairspray runs at the at the Hippodrome until Saturday March 10.

Performances are daily at 7.30pm and two matinee performances on Wednesday and Saturday.

Tickets are priced between £17 and £66 and are available on 08448 717627.

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