REVIEW: HAIRSPRAY (Curve Leicester) ★★★

The brand new tour of ‘smash hit’ musical Hairspray visited Curve Leicester last night to a warm reception. Massive songs such as ‘I Know Where I’ve Been’ and ‘You Can’t Stop The Beat’ create this masterpiece, which lives as comfortably on the big screen as it does on the stage.

The heart-warming story we all know and love takes us to the streets of Baltimore in the 1960s. Tracy Turnblad is a teenager with big hair and huge dreams of becoming the next TV star and maybe nabbing heartthrob Link Larkin while she’s at it. In the process, she takes segregation by the horns and revolutionises TV.

This is the second time I’ve seen Hairspray at Curve Leicester, as I was in the audience for the last tour in 2015, which was absolutely brilliant and left me with nothing but extremely high hopes for this latest tour.

Tracey, played by Rebecca Mendoza, is the underdog character that is easy to become very fond of. Rebecca’s interpretation of Tracey wasn’t my favourite, and I felt at times that she had created a bit of a caricature of the role and she came across as slightly more irritating than loveable.

I was also slightly disappointed by the role of Penny Pingleton, played by Annalise Liard-Bailey. Although I have no doubts that Annalise is a fantastic actor, I missed the hilarity that often comes hand in hand with this role. Annalise went for whiny rather than funny unfortunately, and several hilarious lines fell flat.

The stars of the show, in my opinion, without a doubt were Aimee Moore as Amber and in particular Layton Williams as Seaweed who was absolutely fantastic and had a palpable stage presence. Songs such as ‘Welcome To The 60s’ were delivered beautifully and really stood out in my memory. Brenda Edwards as Motormouth Maybelle delivered a stunning rendition of I Know Where I’ve Been.

The lighting, by Philip Gladwell, constantly caught my eye and was creative, inventive and very memorable.

I have to admit that at times the show came across as slightly over-rehearsed and it felt like the cast were simply going through the motions, although it did pick up towards the end and the audience were certainly on their feet ready for ‘You Can’t Stop the Beat’.

Reviewed by Rosie Bambury
Photo: Ellie Kurttz