Hull New Theatre until 28th April 2018
Reviewed by Catherine McWilliams
Wow just wow! I was totally blown away by this production of Hairspray at Hull New Theatre, what a hugely talented cast, richly deserving of their standing ovation from the audience. From the start the energy levels were incredible and at the interval I thought to myself that it couldn’t get any better, wrong oh so wrong!
Tracy Turnblad (Rebecca Mendoza) is desperate to dance on the Corny Collins Show, but she doesn’t really fit the profile of the dancers, add in that she desperately wants anyone to be able to dance on the show and to end segregation and you have the recipe for fun and mayhem, with plenty of stunning dancing and singing. On the surface this is a lighthearted musical but it packs a punch in the underlying message and the very witty but sharp lyrics of Scott Whitman and Marc Shaiman.
Rebecca Mendoza was outstanding as Tracy and it is hard to believe that this is her professional debut, a true star and one to watch in the future. She held the audience from start to finish and we were willing Tracy on and reveled in her success. I particularly loved her rendition of “I can hear the bells”, pure comedy genius, I had tears of laughter rolling down my face.
Brenda Edwards was superb as Motormouth Maybelle, and she has the most amazing voice, such power and emotion. “I know where I’ve been” blew me away with its poignancy and beauty, I think I held my breath for the entire song and I was not alone in loving it as the Theatre erupted with applause at the end of the song.
Matt Rixon as Edna Turnblad and Norman Pace as Wilbur Turnblad added more humour to the story as Tracy’s parents. They played their parts to perfection, clearly relishing every minute of the show. Their duet of “You’re timeless to me” was wonderfully played, true to the tradition of the old music hall double act.
This is a young cast whose sheer talent shone through at all times as they sang and danced their way through the performance. The band, the colourful costumes, the scenery and the lighting all enhanced the performance. It was a privilege to witness such talent.
Vibrant, colourful and heartwarming, pulsing with sheer joy – “you can’t stop the beat”