Hairspray at the Theatre Royal Plymouth Review


Theatre Royal, Plymouth

18-23 April 2016

Reviewed by Linda Curtain

You certainly ‘won’t stop the beat ‘ at the Theatre Royal Plymouth, where the lively musical ‘Hairspray’ hits the stage this week. I was delighted to have chance to review this production and what a great evening of music, dance and colour I witnessed! Having not previously seen the show – or the film on which the show is based – I was really excited to see if it lived up to expectation and it certainly did not disappoint!

On arriving at the theatre, the atmosphere was already buzzing with a very busy foyer where people were chatting and congregating while enjoying a pre-show drink. With tickets and programme quickly sorted, we soon located our seats which gave us a brilliant view of the stage and we eagerly awaited curtain up.

Set in 1960’s Baltimore, Hairspray is based on John Walters 1988 film of the same name. The story follows the dreams of Tracy Turnblad – a very high-spirited young lady – who is determined to appear on the famous Corny Collins show despite not fitting into the glamorous image usually portrayed on the show. Her determination to succeed in life also makes her determined to put an end to the obvious racism of that era, where it was unheard of for black and white people to appear together. No such barrier could stop the bubbly Tracy however, as she sings and dances her way to success.

With so many highlights through the evening, it is difficult to focus on individuals! The storyline was a bit pantomime like at times, but this added to the enjoyment! Matt Rixon – as Tracy’s mum Edna – was a brilliant character with just the right amount of humour and cheekiness to have the audience giggling at some of his innuendos. His duet song – you’re timeless to me – with husband Wilbur (played by Peter Duncan) was one of the highlights for me.

Claire Sweeney was the perfect bitchy ex beauty star queen turned producer and her eventual breakdown at seeing black and white people dancing together on her show was hilarious.

Last evening, the role of Tracy was taken by understudy Rosie O’Hare, and what an amazing job she did. Another understudy – Aiesha Pease – took the role of Motormouth Maybelle – and what a wonderful soulful singing voice she had.

With the moral message remaining central to the plot, the company certainly pulled out all the stops to give a great performance. With an explosion of 60’s styled, colourful costumes and energetic dance quality, this show certainly had the audience on its feet, dancing to the beat!

Another brilliant evening at the Theatre Royal Plymouth.

Rating: 5/5 thumbs_up

Tickets cost from £22.50 to £42.50 (booking fees may apply).

Hairspray the musical is at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth until 23 April 2016. For more information or to book  tickets click here or call the box office on 01752 267222.

For more information  on the UK tour and tour dates visit

Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, PL1 2TR | 01752 267222


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