28 September to 3 October 2015
Reviewed by Karen Curson
My daughter (age 8) and I attended the opening night of Hairspray at The Royal & Derngate in Northampton.
The Derngate theatre is a lovely one to visit. It is in central Northampton, a stone’s throw from the main shopping area. There are plenty of secure car parks within walking distance of the theatre and with a reduced rate in the evenings.
Ticket prices range from £22 to £39 which we feel is a very reasonable price for a West End quality production.
Well, what a fantastic night out! Hairspray was full of colour, energy and talent from start to finish.
For those who are unfamiliar with the story behind Hairspray, it is set in Baltimore during the 60’s and focuses on black and white segregation during this time.
Tracy Turnblad is a larger than life character who loves to watch the Corny Collins show with her friend Penny Pingleton played by Monique Young, and dreams of being on the show. Once a month on the show is ‘Negro day’. The producers on the show are still keen on keeping black people and white people apart. However, during a school detention, Tracy dances and befriends the black students and manages to dance her way onto the show. She believes that integration should happen soon.
Tony Maudsley played an excellent Edna Turnblad, Tracy’s Mother. He brought a fun character to life and played the doting wife and mother very well.
Claire Sweeney was a fantastic Velma Von Tussle. Velma is the producer of the Corny Collins show. She is also the very pushy Mum of Amber, played by Lauren Stroud. Claire interacted with the audience at times which was fun.
Lauren Stroud really got into character as Amber, who really doesn’t want Tracy on the show. Some would think she may be a little intimidated by her.
Peter Duncan, former Blue Peter presenter was cast in the role of Wilbur Turnblad and along with Tony, they made an excellent couple. The song Timeless to me had the audience oohing and ahhing and laughing the whole way through.
Motormouth Maybelle was played by Brenda Edwards. Her character is the mother of Seaweed, played by Dex Lee and Little Inez (my daughters favourite character in the show) played by Karis Jack. Motormouth has been trying to encourage integration on the show for years but has yet to succeed. Brenda played this part perfectly and her voice was so faultless and powerful.
Link Larkin played by Ashley Gilmour and Corny Collins played by Jon Tsouras were a great team on stage and were well portrayed as the “boy next door” image.
Seaweed was full of energy the whole way through and brought life and laughter to the show. He takes a shine to Penny and a lovely relationship is formed during the show.
Finally, Tracy Turnblad is played by the fabulous Freya Sutton. I have seen other performances of Hairspray, however I love the character Freya brought to Tracy. She too was full of energy and was so loveable.
I won’t spoil the ending as I encourage anyone to go and see this show if they can.
Now to the staging and costumes in the show. The set was very cleverly designed so that there were small pieces of scenery which were rolled on and off the stage quickly and effectively. My daughter particularly loved the bed at the beginning of the show. The colourful lighting really added to the feel good factor.
The costumes were in keeping with the cultural shift of the 1960’s. They were well designed and lovely to look at.
This show is one of the well-known and loved West End favourites with excellent set piece musical numbers that are well known to old and young. This is definitely a show that will send you away singing the songs for days to come.
I can most definitely give this show 5 out of 5!
Tickets cost from £22 to £39 (booking fees may apply).
Hairspray is at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton until 3 October 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 01604 624811.
Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Road, Northampton, NN1 1DP | 01604 624811