A few years ago I saw the original London production of Hairspray and so expectations were high for the touring version which has reached Oxford this week. With Brian Conley leading the company in the role of Edna (made famous by actors as varied as Michael Ball, Harvey Fierstein and John Travolta), it is probably the best musical I have seen on the New Theatre stage.
Yes, the production is somewhat slimmed down from what was seen in London but none of the vitality and energy is lost. The colours are as vivid as you would expect and the characterisation is bold and brassy.
The stand-out performance of the night comes from Sandra Marvin as Motormouth. She has a powerful voice which brings the house down – particularly in the second half with an incredible performance of ‘I know Where I’ve been.’ Credit also to Emma Dukes and Wayne Robinson for bringing a lot of fun to their roles as Penny and Seaweed.
All in all, this is an out, loud, proud show – go and revel in it.