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Hairspray (Leicester Curve)

Paul Kerryson directs the Broadway musical ''Hairspray'' at the Leicester Curve, Kieran Johnson reviews

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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The cast of Hairspray
© Pamela Raith

Under Paul Kerryson's direction, Leicester Curve stages a brand new production of Hairspray that has all the energy and buzz you would expect from this bouncy Broadway musical. Its upbeat music and lyrics coupled with a strong cast make this one of the Curve's best productions to date.

With the swinging 60s as the backdrop, the story follows teenager-on-a-mission Tracy Turnblad in her quest for integration and equality. After auditioning to star on local television, she becomes something of a celebrity and uses her influence to raise awareness of the segregation ethnic minorities receive on television.

Rebecca Craven is the eager Tracy Turnblad, whose nerves are evident during opening number "Good Morning Baltimore", but it quickly disappears as she belts her way through. Her Tracy is determined and likeable which, by the end of the show, ensures you are rooting for her. Her enthusiasm and energy allows her to command the stage with ease during "I Can Hear The Bells" and "You Can't Stop the Beat".

Zizi Strallen is the perfectly clumsy Penny Pingleton, her comedic attitude making for Tracy's ideal sidekick. Tyrone Huntley takes the part of Seaweed Stubbs, a dancer who executes Lee Proud's choreography to a perfect degree.

David Witts ensures his EastEnders background is a distant memory by creating a charming and believable Link Larkin, whose vocals during "It Takes Two" create the perfect atmosphere for Tracy's lust. Sophie-Louse Dann and Vicki Lee Taylor make up the wickedly spiteful mother and daughter duo Velma and Amber Von Tussle.

Damian Williams and John Barr star as adorable couple Edna and Wilbur Turnblad. Their heartfelt duet "You're Timeless To Me" is a personal highlight as the depth of their characters is truly displayed with a terrific performance. Williams' Edna creates a perfect figure head for the Turnblad family and channels his inner Tracy at every opportunity.

Callum Train is cheesy television host Corny Collins who holds the TV show together and Claudia Kariuki makes her mark as Motormouth Maybelle. Sharon Wattis, Cleopatra Joseph and Jasmine Kerr make up The Dynamites, who ensure vocal runs are plentiful during "Welcome to the 60s"; perhaps they should start their own band out of the show.

Lee Proud's choreography is sublime at capturing the 60s elements and ensuring each character has their own personality channeled through the dance; Baltimore's very own ‘Madison' gets its own scene.

The on stage band, led by musical director Ben Atkinson, are somewhat hidden in Paul Moore's simple set design, which is unfortunate. The design allows for televisions to be displayed in view of the audience, albeit not to their full advantage.

Hairspray once again cements the Curve as one of the countries prominent production house; let's hope there is life in the after its short run in Leicester.

Hairspray plays at Leicester's Curve until April 5