Hairspray (Tour - Sunderland)
Little more than two years has passed since it was last in the region. With Freya Sutton in the lead role as Tracy Turnblad, making her professional debut, it could have been a bold move to tour again with an unknown actress in the lead. But Sutton shows no fear of the spotlight and is a delight to watch. From the opening scene, Tracy bubbles into life and wins hearts with her powerful vocals and likeable nature.
Set in 1962, Tracy dreams of being famous and dancing on the Corny Collins Show. It’s only when she meets Seaweed (played on this occasion by Fela Lufadeju rather than the advertised Marcus Collins) does she pick up the moves to make her dreams come true. Tracy sets out to repay Seaweed and stop the segregation that prevents young black adolescents like Seaweed from dancing with Tracy and other while adolescents on the Show.
Following in the mighty heels of Billy Conley, Michael Ball and Michael Starke will no doubt be a daunting task, but Mark Benton sits alongside the greats as Edna Turnblad with his down to earth approach. His chemistry with on-screen husband Wilber (Paul Rider) is a pleasure to watch and whilst Rider is no Les Dennis, is up to the job none the less.
Sets are simple but effective; the giant can of hairspray at the end is the most elaborate of props to comic delight.
It’s the flawless dancing that tells the story and there’s plenty of it. A feel good, fun musical that must not be missed.