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Nottingham Castle


2 March 11 words: Andy Afford
It was a case of beehive hairdos to the fore as the Theatre Royal went back to the sixties for a squirt of Hairspray

Michael Starke in Hairspray at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham

Based on the John Waters cult classic film of the same name, Hairspray casts smalltown visionary and teen-with-a-dream, Tracy Turnblad (Laurie Scarth), as an unlikely dance star. It is 1962 and our big girl with big ambitions - and even bigger hair - finds herself an overnight sensation when she cuts school to audition and win herself a spot on TV institution, The Corny Collins Show.

The heroine pits her wits, values, dance chops and sense of personal style against the show’s in-house mean girl and would-be princess, Amber Von Tussle (Clare Halse), ito win the heart of Link Larkin, played by Liam Doyle, the show’s swoon-inducing teen idol. Bouncing without respite from one set-piece to the next the cast of thousands’ commitment to maintaining the pace of the narrative is supported perfectly by Marc Shaiman’s lauded original score.

This cartoon depiction of the move towards racial integration in late fifties/early sixties American heartland is breathlessly choreographed throughout. to the point where there simply cannot be a more all-singing or all-dancing show. Anywhere.

Special mentions on the night go to the powerhouse vocal pipes of Sandra Marvin as firebrand DJ Motormouth Maybelle and the wilfully-woeful dancing and comic inflections of geeky BFF Penny Pingleton, played by Emma Dukes. Veterans Micky Dolenz and Michael Starke (Sinbad from Brookside) serve as touchstones throughout as Tracy’s still crazy-in-love parents, Wilbur and Edna.

Hairspray’s pantomime sensibilities, plus its mix of heavily stylised music and costumes, renders a none-more-American show accessible to all despite its many period references and heavy accents. Full houses everywhere bear testament to its enduring appeal.

Hairspray runs until March 12th 2011 at the Theatre Royal.



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