Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Hairspray Congress Theatre Eastbourne

Congress Theatre
15th - 26th Feb 2011

(Performance seen 16th Feb)

Cast (will appear below click to view)

Apologies for not typing the cast list as usual but it is rather long, I did want to credit everybody and I'm trying to avoid RSI !

What a way to start a theatre season in Eastbourne!

I really don't know where to start on Hairspray as it is such a feel good show throughout.

So lets start with pricing. Yes the top prices tickets are in excess of £40, not far off West End prices. But this show is worth every penny. Besides, the cast list above shows just how many people are involved in this production alone. If you want a show that gives good value for your money this is it!

I do know that, despite the current hard times and the price of these tickets, bookings at the Congress Theatre are incredibly high for the rest of this run so if you want a good view for goodness sake book now. Do not wait until the final week!

Big hair, big company, big fun. That just about sums up Hairspray. It's the story of Tracy Turnblad. A down to earth white girl with big hair who has even bigger dreams. Her dream is to dance on The Corny Collins Show, a local TV dance program. But this outgoing big hearted girl ends up doing so much more as she encounters mocking of her weight and the horrors of race discrimination existing within the industry.

So it's similar to many other light hearted musicals which have serious undertones and, yes, the somewhat predictable love story is in there too. Tracy's heart aches for the love of  a dance idol, Link, who's initially smitten by the pretty, but racially ignorant, Amber.

But despite the fact that the subject is a serious one you never stop smiling from beginning to end.

The cast?

Honestly I could be here forever, I could write reams of praise on all of them. It seems unfair to omit anybody but I guess as is the tradition with reviews I'd better highlight a few.

Michael Starke superb as Edna Turnblad in HairsprayMichael Starke, as Tracy's mother Edna is absolutely bloody brilliant. Yes the guy who spent 15 years in Brookside playing Sinbad dons the wigs, lipstick and big flouncy frocks. This 53 year old keeps up with every dance move thrown at him by Associate Choreographer Danny Austin as well as any of the far younger members of the company.

Pairing him with Ex Monkee Micky Dolenz as Wilbur Turnblad, Tracy's father, was a stroke of genius. The comedy combination, and indeed even the singing ability, of these two works so very well. This has to be highlighted in Act 2 at the Har-De-Har-Hut as the duet sing Timeless To Me so beautifully and at the same time so hysterically.

It would be a crime not to mention Emma Dukes whose take on ditzy Penny Pingleton is just sublime. She is so funny that at times you could almost forget that underneath the wig and make-up is a sensible actress.

Micky Dolenz starring in Hairspray as Wilbur TurnbladSandra Marvin (Motormouth Maybelle) - bloody hell what a stunning voice! Her delivery of I know where I've been got the loud rousing reception it truly deserved.

Then there's the very convincing 'teen heartthrob' Link (Liam Doyle), the wonderful mother and daughter Velma and Amber Von Tussle (Gillian Kirkpatrick and Clare Halse) and the excellent Wayne Robinson as Seaweed.

We have the stunning and vocally perfect Shakira Akabussi as Pearl (Kriss Akabusi's talented daugther), with Natalie Kelly (Cindy) and Abiona Omonua (Peaches) making up the rest of the amazing "3 Degrees like" Dynamite trio.

Whilst I can't mention everybody I can't omit the most important person of all Tracy Turnblad or rather young Laurie Scarth who is beneath the big hair. She is the character around whom the whole story revolves. It needs to be played by somebody who can give a consistently fabulous vocal performance, maintain the required accent throughout and deliver every line of script with equal importance and conviction to a massive Eastbourne audience who are always extremely picky when they decide whether a standing ovation is warranted.

That's why Laurie passed the audition for the lead role in Hairspray!

A massive well done to her and it was fitting that the character of Tracy Turnblad is the last to leave the stage after a standing ovation from all 3 levels of the Congress Theatre. I had to turn round to check because it is honestly so rare to see those in the circle and the grand cirle joining those in the stalls in showing appreciation for what was a really impressive production. If you can get the people at the very back of an auditorium to stand you know you've done a brilliant job!

This is a musical that inspired me to go home and buy the original Broadway soundtrack but I have to say although it is great Michael Starke and Micky Dolenz sound far better than the original Broadway stars (Harvey Fierstein and Dick Latessa I believe) and the rest of the cast are just as impressive as the originals.

I think my wife summed it up pretty well as we drove home "It's a shame your stars only go up to 5 because that deserved more!"

This application of Hairspray only holds until 26th Feb. If you want to grab a ticket whilst a few remain book here (don't worry I'm not on commission! - sadly)

Maximum stars it is then for maximum entertainment!

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1 comment:

  1. I thought the first half was very long and the first half an hour was definitely a drag. The 2nd half was better. Sandra Marvin was without a doubt the best vocal performer of the night. The show rver all it was good but not fantastic.


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