So I’ve seen Hairspray a number of times and I can quite honestly say this is probably one of the best stage tours of this musical I have ever seen.
Hairspray is the story of teenager, Tracy Turnblad, who attempts to realise her aspirations - to dance on The Corny Collins Show. When she achieves this, she becomes an overnight sensation, and meets an array of characters. The show is based on the original John Waters film, and you are probably familiar with the 2007 musical film, and whilst it deals with some incredibly relevant, powerful and emotive subjects, Hairspray is also a stand loud and proud show, with swinging numbers that demand you smile from start to finish. Hairspray isaddictive, and just the musical the world needs right now!
So, with that introduction, what about this version. What I witnessed on opening night at the Palace Theatre, Manchester was nothing short of world class. The WHOLE cast are, well-rehearsed and provide a powerful and extraordinaryshow for the audience. Katie Brace, who plays Tracy Turnblad, is so good I had to check her biography to see what her credits are. To my surprise this is her professionaldebut, yet she absolutely OWNED the stage like any well-seasoned west end star. She was simply brilliant. Throughout the show Brace burst with a confidence, humour, quirkiness and charisma that makes Brace my favourite Tracy. I hope to see much more of her on the stage as she was totally captivating.
The only time she had the limelight dimmed was when Maybelle, played by Brenda Edwards, graced our stage. Her rendition of ‘I Know Where I've Been’ STOLE THE SHOW! Edwards is a powerhouse vocalist who, with one of the most impressive vocal efforts I have ever heard, gave the performance of a lifetime.The passion Edwards brough to her rendition, brought a standing ovation from some and you can tell this song means the world to her. It was authoritative, distinguished, andpoignant.
Norman Pace starred as Wilbur alongside Alex Bourne's Edna. Bourne is in his element as the show’s matriarch. Together they bring tenderness, love, and chemistry that these characters need.Their portrayal is so delightful and sincere as they demonstrate with pure class their unspoiled affection for each other. Their version of ‘You're Timeless To Me’ was just sublime and bought a really laugh out loud moment for the audience.
Nevertheless, despite all of this,it feels wrong to single out individuals because every performer deserved the standing ovation and applause! With a stunning orchestra, get the show on your ‘to do list’ this month. Hairspray runs at The Palace Theatre, Manchester until Saturday 30th October and then returns 8th – 13th November.
Dean Thomas-Lowde for Canal St Online.
Published: 26-Oct-2021 (6418)