Hairspray at the Liverpool Empire Review


Liverpool Empire

12-17 October 2015

Reviewed by Melanie Allen

 ‘You gotta think big to be big’ is the message emanating from this feel good, hip swinging, toe tapping timeless musical. And it’s the ‘big’ characters that make this show. It’s 1962 and in Baltimore, voluptuous school girl Tracey Turnblad (Freya Sutton) dreams of being a dancer on the Corny Collins show (Jon Tsouras). One day after meeting a group of black dancers (Seaweed) in her school detention, she auditions for the show where she meets her handsome idol, Link Larkin (Ashley Gilmour). However Tracey has much bigger plans that have far reaching consequences on a segregated society…

‘Momma I’m a big girl now’ cleverly introduces the trio of mother/daughter relationships; the conniving main characters, Amber von Tussle (Lauren Stroud) and her tyrant TV producer mother Velma (Claire Sweeney); Penny Pingleton, Tracey’s best down trodden friend (Monique Young) and her controlling mother and Tracey and her hardworking larger than life mother, Edna (Tony Maudsley). Tracey soon becomes a household name on the dance show, much to the disgust of jealous love rival Amber.

Integration, not segregation is far from the Von Tussles minds, but Tracey has other ideas. Along with her friends, she enlists the help of her loving parents (father is played by Peter Duncan) who sing the most amusing song in the show in my opinion, ‘You’re timeless to me’. Full of sexual innuendos this song had the audience in stitches. Tony Maudsley plays a sensational female part once more.

Due to the Tracey’s desire for integration, she organises a riot and prison ensues. At this point, Seaweed’s mother, Motormouth Maybelle (Brenda Edwards) has the most fantastically powerful voice I have ever heard live. Little Inez her daughter had amazing rhythm and dance moves the other dancers could only aspire to.

With Link’s help she breaks out of jail and races to the dance contest just in time to knock Amber out of the running and be crowned ‘Miss Teenage Hairspray’. Not only does she bring together all the dancers on the same stage, she also finds love with Link, and brings Penny and Seaweed together. The character of Penny totally comes out of her shell – queue the catchy song ‘You can’t stop the beat’ for the finale.

The set was tremendous with a rapturous audience. The only grumble I had was that there was an issue with the ladies toilets in the stalls being closed for refurbishment which caused massive queues everywhere else, but apart from this, I couldn’t fault this show. Me and my 10 year old daughter left with buzzing hands from all the clapping and singing our little hearts out.

Do not miss this!

Rating: 5/5 thumbs_up

Tickets cost from £10 to £53.90 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).

Hairspray is at the Liverpool Empire until 17 October 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 8713017.

Liverpool Empire Theatre, Lime Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1 1JE | 0844 8713017


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