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Hairspray at Birmingham Hippodrome

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
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You can't stop the beat of hit musical
This cult musical Hairspray is back on tour offering some escapism from the real world, but does the exciting vibe of the original still beat on?

Hairspray. Tour, Birmingham Hippodrome
The colourful, fun world of Hairspray


Hairspray has reached Birmingham Hippodrome where it stays until October 14. It's awash with vibrant rainbow shades from the opening scene when we meet gorgeously charming, kind-hearted Tracy Turnblad. The role model we could all do with in our lives.

Set in 1960's America, Tracy embarks on a series of escapades to become Miss Teenage Hairspray despite being a bit of an outsider. On the way, she ends up fighting for civil rights and protesting to make her favourite dance TV show a mixed race, integrated programme where colour doesn't matter.

Although it's a bright, crazy feel-good show with powerful Motown and soul-influenced songs, it does have some serious themes running through it.

There's the fight for civil rights, racism and issues of loving who you are, no matter what your size. But it all comes out alright in the end in a gloriously happy ending, which is what makes this such a good dose of escapism and hope.

Hairspray, tour, Birmingham Hippodrome
Follow the adventures of heroine Tracy in Hairspray


It's cult status started with the movie Hairspray, starring Divine and Ricki Lake, in the 1980's. Then the musical launched on stage on Broadway in 2002, winning eight Tony Awards. The show's success continued in London where it picked up a further four Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical, for its stint in the West End in 2007.

Part of that success is due to the lovable characters and the talented cast that bring them alive. Tracy Turnblad - "the big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart" is infectiously excitable and uplifting. Rebecca Mendoza playing her is overflowing with enthusiasm and has a great voice too to enhance the songs.

Big-hitting songs like I Can Hear The Bells, Mama I'm A Big Girl Now and of course, the finale of You Can't Stop The Beat that are catchy hits.

Hairspray tour, Birmingham Hippodrome
Mean girls: Tracy has her enemies trying to stop her dreams


But despite the fast-paced numbers and dance routines, it's actually the slower paced tracks that give the most emotion. Tracy's pantomime-esque parents, played by comedian Norman Pace as dad and Matt Rixon in drag as mum, steal the show. They are especially delightful in their duet You're Timeless To Me. It got the biggest cheer of the night.

Equally as remarkable on stage, but for her voice rather than comedy was one-time X Factor contestant Brenda Edwards, who has been in Hairspray for several years now as Motormouth Maybelle.

Hairspray, birmingham Hippodrome, U.K. Tour
Civil rights is among themes in Hairspray


She has already impressed audiences in musicals like Chicago and We Will Rock You and she does so again with Hairspray. Her voice proves to be a powerhouse of sound for the Blues/gospel song I Know Where I've Been.

Hairspray has become a cult classic for a reason. It's a musical of many depths - it's funny while meaningful; joyous while tinged with some harsh realities; but always romantic, hopeful and fun with a capital F.

Hairspray tour, Birmingham Hippodrome
The catchy music is part of the joy of Hairspray


If you need a pick-me-up, it's the perfect dose of happiness. It got a standing ovation in Birmingham on its opening night and will no doubt get it again many times before the week is out.

Rating:

Hairspray
Birmingham Hippodrome
October 9 - 14, 2017
Running time: 2 hours and 30 minutes including one interval.

Captioned: Wed 11 Oct 7:30pm
Signed: Thu 12 Oct 7:30pm
Audio described: Sat 14 Oct 2:30pm
Touch Tour: Sat 14 Oct 1pm. Touch Tours give visually impaired patrons the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the set, props and costumes. Tours must be booked in advance through Ticket Sales on 0844 338 5000.

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Why? Escape reality with bold fun musical
When: October 9 - 14
Phone: 0844 338 5000
Where: Birmingham Hippodrome
Cost: From £19.50
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