The hit Broadway musical Hairpsray makes a welcome return to Birmingham this week with a terrific new cast but all the familiar songs this show can brighten up any day with its catchy lyrics and punchy dance routines.
Set in 1962, the show follows Tracy Turnblad and her quest for racial equality through the mediums of song and dance. After being successful in auditioning for a local TV show, Tracy is set on repaying her friend Seaweed for his help by fighting for integration of all races to be accepted in society and on television.
Newcomer Freya Sutton captures the hearts of the audience with her interpretation of Tracy Turnblad. Her incredibly sweet vocals and undeniable energetic stage presence is overwhelming in such a character that everybody already is rooting for. Opening the show with Good Morning Baltimore, she doesn’t slow down taking us on her important journey with songs such as Welcome to the 60s, I Can Hear the Bells and You Can’t Stop the Beat.
Mark Benton plays Edna Turnblad, Tracy’s convincing mother. His humour is perfect for the role, a great comedic actor which, when coupled with her husband Wilbur (Paul Rider), creates moments of hilarity on stage, particular during You’re Timeless to Me.
X Factor’s Marcus Collins is a surprise gem in the cast. Whilst his character only has one song Run and Tell That, it’s a shock to think this is his professional musical theatre debut as his conviction in the role is terrific. Luke Striffler makes a charismatic and charming Link Larkin with all the talent that comes with the character, and great renditions of It Takes Two and Without Love.
A final special mention to Sandra Marvin as Motormouth Maybelle, having played the role in the West End and previously on tour, her renditions of Big Blonde and Beautiful and, in particular, I Know Where I’ve Been are an astounding moment on stage, her wide range of octaves ooze with passion and meaning.
Hairspray is an energetic ball of fun but carries a deep message; it’s got everything a perfect musical could want!
Hairspray plays at Birmingham Hippodrome until Sat 1 June.