Review

Hairspray at The Alhambra Theatre – the nicest show in town!

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With an incredible score of classic musical tunes such as You Can’t Stop The Beat, Good Morning Baltimore and Without Love, it’s impossible not to clap and sing along to this fantastic musical. Revolving around overweight teen Tracy Turnblad, the show is all about celebrating differences and seeing behind looks, weight and race to realise everyone should be equal. It’s a feel-good show with delightfully talented antagonists Velma and Amber Von Tussle (played exceptionally by blonde bombshells Gina Murray and Aimee Moore respectively).

The cast in general are fantastic and help maintain a roaringly lively energy. Layton Williams as Seaweed is particularly stand-out, as is the non-farcical yet funny Matt Rixton as Tracy’s mum Edna Turnblad. Her relationship with Wilbur Turnblad is golden, and Rixton and Norman Pace have perfect comedy chemistry.

Unfortunately, the show relies so heavily on the audience relating to our protagonist, Tracy. Rebecca Mendoza doesn’t get the role quite right, playing it rather over-the-top and irritatingly throughout. She’s not charismatic or sweet enough for us to believe that the stunning Link Larkin could fall in love with her. She comes across ballsy, sure, but she also seems annoying, pushy and a little false throughout. Edward Chitticks as Link is undoubtedly a talent and would make a great leading man or Panto Prince in a different production but his transition from aloof cool kid to innocent revolutionist isn’t particularly realistic. This is partly due to Tracy being strangely unlikeable, however, and I think with a different leading lady this could have worked.

The ensemble are astounding (Freya Rowley as the understudy Female Authority aside, who is distractingly over-the-top) and provide a backdrop of entertainment throughout. The set and costumes are both designed by Takis and whilst the costumes are vibrant and well-fitted to the era, the set is underwhelming somehow and seems a little clunky, which doesn’t really add anything to this otherwise dazzling production.

Catch Hairspray at The Alhambra Theatre until 25th November.

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