Theatre Review: Hairspray


As the eye watering show lights flash all around there is no mistaking the high contrast high haired spectacle. The show starts and the audience is flung into the hyper technicolor world of the 60’s where the dance show reigns supreme in Baltimore. Tracy Turnblad is our guide through this camp hyper vivid world where even the rats are part of the charm.

A wonderful example of how art can educate as well as entertain the themes of segregation, sexism and body image are all confronted in the backdrop of the American bandstand era, where TV told the world what was normal, decent and proper.


This production was one of the best I’d seen. The show itself is choreographed spectacularly by Drew McOnie the show has a slow minute at the very beginning then takes off like a rocket and doesn’t let up.

The songs styles shift from rock and roll to soul and Motown vibes with the cast phenomenal voices selling each note to perfection. My particular favourites were Brenda Edwards’ powerful yet tender vocals as Motormouth Maybelle, newcomer Katie Brace’s enthusiastic teenage Tracy was a delight and the chemistry between Norman Pace and Alex Bourne was absolute genius.

The infectious final “You can’t stop the beat” had everyone up and stayed up for a raucous standing ovation. Hairspray is definitely one of those bucket list shows you must see and the cast and crew at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal have created something truly fabulous.

Hairspray runs at the Theatre Royal all week and I implore you to beam into the big tunes, big laughs, big themes and the biggest hair.

Review by Adam Willis

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