I was enthusiastic seeing Hairspray at the Leeds Grand Theatre after watching the DVD a couple of times beforehand. It was on at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London's West End between 2007 and 2010 starring Michael Ball and Leanne Jones.
Initially I was disappointed not to see Mark Benton and Freya Sutton on the cast board for the evening's performance. However my disappointment faded when seeing Daniel Stockton and Nikki Pocklington and Edna and Tracy respectively and their performances were incredible! In fact all the cast were exceptional, a job well done!
It was such a feel good show from the beginning to end following the journey of Tracy Turnbald's desire to dance on The Corny Collins Show and her desires are to win Link Larkin's heart and to integrate the show so everyone can dance in unity.
The musical is based on John Waters's movie in 1988. The book is written by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan. Marc Shaiman composed the music and written the lyrics and is recently did the music for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory . Original direction was by Jack O'Brien and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell. The story is set in Baltimore in 1962 where race segregation was still then a fact of life and there was a segregated dance show. Tracy's quest came to a challenge because of existing attitudes and ignorance, whether willingly or unwillingly, and especially with the manipulative and scheming Velma Von Tussle (Lucy Benjamin) and her vain and petty daughter, Amber (Gemma Sutton). Velma and Amber would go at all lengths including corruption to discredit Tracy and to prevent her competing with Amber for the coveted Hairspray pageant crown.
I loved the feel good catchy musical numbers from a variety of genres. There is the positive opening, Good Morning Baltimore (Tracy (Nikki Pocklington), the optimistic Welcome to the '60s (Tracy and Edna (Daniel Stockhill), Run and Tell That! (Seaweed (Adrian Hansen) and Inez (Gabrielle Brooks), the romantic Without Love (Tracy, Link (Luke Striffler), Seaweed and Penny (Lauren Hood), and the poignant and moving I Known Where I've Been (Motormouth (Claudia Kariuki) and Ensemble) and my favourite hit must be You Can't Stop the Beat (Company) which got us going in our seats and end up dancing away! I'm still humming this song just now!
The atmosphere on stage and in the audience was incredible and everyone was drawn in from the very beginning. David Rockwell's sets and William Ivey Long's costumes blended in nicely with the characters and mood of the musical's synopsis.
I highly recommend Hairspray and further information can be found on the official website. As I agree with the Daily Telegraph, it's 'Big Hair, Big Heart and Big Hit'!