Reviewed by Catherine Joyce
Last night (18 September 2017) we went to Blackpool Opera House to see the smash hit musical Hairspray. Situated within Blackpool’s famous Winter Gardens the Opera House is one of the UK’s biggest theatres and seats almost 3,000 people. The theatre is in the town centre so there is plenty of parking available, we paid £3 to park on a nearby car park that was only a few minutes walk away from the theatre. We were a little early so we took the opportunity to have a drink in the bar which had plenty of seating and was reasonably priced.
The musical transports us to 1960’s Baltimore, at a time when racial segregation was the norm and we see teenagers rebelling against an older generation that isn’t yet ready to embrace change. Tracy Turnblad, a plump teenager with a big heart, dreams of joining her heroes who dance in the nightly Corny Collins TV Show. The only problem is that she isn’t quite what TV producer Velma Von Tussle, played by Gina Murray, is looking for. Rebecca Mendoza, who plays Tracy, puts on an amazing performance in this, her professional debut and is definitely someone to look out for in the future.
Tracy’s parents, Wilbur and Edna, are played by Norman Pace and Matt Rixon who work as a brilliant comedy duo, especially in the brilliant “You’re timeless to me” They have a real rapport and were a big hit with the audience. Understudies Ben Darcy and Daniel Clift made the most of their night as Corny Collins and Link Larkin, Layton Williams playing Seaweed wowed the audience with his energetic and acrobatic dance skills. It’s hard to choose just one performance out of such a talented cast but Brenda Edward’s rendition of “I Know Where I’ve Been” in the second half had the audience cheering and received the most applause of the evening.
The sound during the show was excellent, both the live orchestra and singing were particularly clear with the lyrics easy to follow.
The stage at the Opera House is quite large and it really needed to be with such a huge cast. The talented dancers, choreographed by Drew McOnie, had plenty of space to perform and I thought that way that the area was split into three for the number “Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now” worked really well. The lighting and costumes were in glorious technicolour, transforming the black and white of a 60’s TV studio into a real feast for the eyes.
The night ended with the audience on their feet for the finale, You Can’t Stop The Beat. We have seen many musicals over the years and it is rare to have the whole audience on their feet for the final song so it shows just how good this musical is when you have a theatre as large as the Opera House all showing their appreciation in this way!
The show is in Blackpool until Saturday 23rd September before continuing a tour of the UK until June 2018. This high energy, colourful show is fantastic to watch and the night flew by way too fast.
Tickets cost from £17.50 to £49.50 (booking fees may apply).
Hairspray is at the Blackpool Opera House from 18-23 September 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk or call the box office on 0844 856 1111.
Winter Gardens & Opera House Theatre, 97 Church Street, Blackpool, Lancashire, FY1 1HL