Theatre review: Hairspray

Hairspray is at the Alhambra
Hairspray is at the Alhambra
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Bradford Alhambra 3/5

Hairspray is a glitzy musical with a message tackling both racial integration and body image.

Set in Baltimore in the 1960s the story centres around Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair who sets out and follows her dream. Along the way she becomes a celebrity on a TV programme, wins the boy of her dreams and is successful in integrating the black community into TV dance. Hairspray is fast joining the ranks of iconic musicals and needs to be played out in its full glory. It just doesn’t lend itself to a pared-down production, such as this one.

Although it has energy and talent, it is laboured and lost thanks to its dull set of backdrops and minuscule sliding rostra, on which the actors look very uncomfortable. And the show really doesn’t need distracting monitors showing 60s historical clips. As Tracy, Freya Sutton got off to a rocky start vocally, but came into her own eventually. Claire Sweeney as Velma seemed uncomfortable in the role at times whilst Tony Maudsley failed to impress as Edna Turnblad.

Hairspray’s dance chorus and supporting roles however shone impressively. Peter Duncan’s Wilbur is pure gold. Penny (Monique Young) and Seaweed (Dex Lee) make a convincing duo while Brenda Edwards, the powerful Motormouth Maybelle, is exactly as she should be.

• To November 14.