Hairspray at the Churchill Theatre

The Nicest Kids In Town are back in Bromley this week with the latest production of Hairspray. I am a huge fan of Hairspray having seen several professional and amateur productions of it as well as having directed an amateur production of it myself. I’m always therefore keen to see Hairspray and see what the current cast were like and what the directors vision was for this particular production.

Hairspray tells of Tracy Turnblad, a girl who is larger than life in all ways who is determined to get onto the Corny Collins show. When Tracey achieves this she soon realises that the most important thing isn’t dancing on TV but being able to dance together with her black friends such as Seaweed on TV.

One of the reasons I love Hairspray is that every song makes me smile or want to get up and dance and this production was no exception. The energy and characterisation from this cast was brilliant throughout. As soon as the beat started in the opening number ‘ Good Morning Baltimore,’ the audience was met with a stage full of colour, dancing and a lot of fun.

This energy relies massively on Tracy herself who barely leaves the stage. Tracey was played by Katie Brace who, even after a show stop really threw herself into the part. Asides from the aforementioned bundles of energy she plays Tracey as kooky but loveable, at the same time as knocking the vocals out of the park. Talking of kooky, Penny Pingleton was played by Rebecca-Jayne Davies and she provided some of the biggest laughs of the night.

Brenda Edwards played Motormouth Maybell and her song, ‘I know Where I’ve Been,’ is one of the few serious moments in the show. Edwards not only delivered it with a flawless vocal performance but her ability to emote through that song was exceptional.

The set itself was very effective and I really enjoyed the fact that when we were watching the Corny Collins show the backdrop was drawn up and you could see the band. It was a nice nod to the ‘bandstand’ era of TV shows and of course the inspiration for the Corny Collins show. The backdrop was used to nice potential during ‘Big Blonde and Beautiful’ where images of the American Civil rights movement was projected up and it really helped to drive home what they were fighting for.

A small niggle was that at times the stage was lit a little darkly and heavily relied upon follow spots to be quick and accurate which didn’t always happen. Equally some of the microphone pickups were late and particularly noticeable in ‘Welcome to the 60’s.’ The costumes were beautifully designed with the Council girls and guys in bright dresses and suits which contrasted nicely to Motormouth, Seaweed and his friends who were in more casual attire.

Hairspray gives you everything you could want in a show, bursting with heart, songs you come away singing and a cast that embody their characters brilliantly.

Hairspray is on at the Churchill Theatre until the 12th February. You can find out more and book tickets here.

If you like this review you might also like my review for Grease, Frozen and Jersey Boys.

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