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Review: HAIRSPRAY, King's Theatre, Glasgow

Tracy Turnblad comes to Glasgow, now "Run and Tell That"

Review: HAIRSPRAY, King's Theatre, Glasgow

Review: HAIRSPRAY, King's Theatre, Glasgow Hairspray has returned to Glasgow at the nicest "Kings" in town! The show follows the antics of aspiring teen dancer, Tracy Turner, and her dreams of dancing on TV and ending segregation in her 1960s Baltimore community.

The stage adaptation of the 1988 John Waters' film opened on Broadway in 2002 and was later made into a musical film in 2007. The UK has enjoyed multiple touring productions and two West End productions, one in 2007 and most recently a revival in 2021 at the London Coliseum. This non-replica touring production, directed by Paul Kerryson, makes its final stop at the Glasgow Kings Theatre this week.

The casting by Jonathan Russell is just excellent. Katie Brace oozes joy and enthusiasm as Tracy, and has a delightful rapport with her mother, Edna (Alex Bourne), and father, Wilbur (Norman Pace). Bourne and Pace garner the largest laughs of the night during their duet, "You're Timeless To Me", with plenty of giggles both on-stage and in the auditorium.

Reece Richards, as Seaweed, has a ball leading "Run and Tell That", Charlotte St Croix was just wonderful as Little Inez, and the Dynamites (Natalia Brown, Gabrielle Davina Smith, and Charlotte St Croix) were fierce and flawless during "Welcome to the Sixties". Bernadette Bangura was covering the role of Motormouth Maybelle at this particular performance, stealing many scenes, and led the rousing "I Know Where I've Been" fantastically, to rapturous applause.

Richard Meek is perfectly sleek and slick as TV host Corny Collins, opposite the deliciously malicious Rebecca Thornhill as Velma Von Tussle. Rebecca Jayne-Davies is endearingly awkward as Penny Pingleton.

Some timely updates to Mark Shaiman and Scott Wittman's lyrics are a nice touch e.g. "Tomorrow is a brand new day and it sees both white and black" in "You Can't Stop the Beat".

The band is sadly half the size of the original West End ensemble, playing musical supervisor Ben Atkinson's updated orchestrations, but they work incredibly hard delivering Shaiman's delicious licks and grooves, transporting you back to the era.

The book by Thomas Mehan and Mark O'Donnell is full of punchlines, and while it is very much a sugar-coated look at body positivity and US racial segregation, has a nice balance of silliness and sincerity for a fun night out.

Philip Gladwell's lighting design is as bright and colourful as Takis' costume design, with petticoats and vintage suits aplenty. Corny Collins' shiny suits were a real highlight and the number of sequins in the finale could very much rival an episode of Strictly Come Dancing!

It was a little surprising at this stage of the tour that the sound mix wasn't quite right, with soloists indistinguishable from the ensemble at times, and a generally muted accompaniment from the band.

While Takis' minimal set design allowed plenty of space for the company's delivery of Drew McOnie's dazzling choreography, it felt at times like a set piece was missing and there was an overreliance on the projection screen at the back of the stage.

That said, it was wonderful seeing the band on stage during the scenes in the Corny Collins Show studio and the audience were on their feet dancing along to "You Can't Stop the Beat". Don't miss your last chance to see this joyous production of Hairspray!

Hairspray at the King's Theatre, Glasgow, until Saturday 2 April



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