Why you MUST see Hairspray in Hull this week

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By Laura Bushnell
Writer for What’s On Hub

WOW just WOW! Last night I had the absolute pleasure of seeing the one of the most famous stage musicals in the world, Hairspray, which is showing at Hull New Theatre all this week as part of it’s UK tour.

The show was absolutely incredible. There was a burst of energy on stage and the atmosphere filled the theatre. I’ve only seen the 2007 film but let me tell you, they did it justice and then some.

Set in the 1960s, the show tackles racism, segregation and body image shaming in the media. It made me feel uneasy at how people were treated back then and then I realised how it was still so relevant today!

The Story

Dance enthusiast Tracy Turnblad (played by Rebecca Mendoza) was dreaming BIG to get on the big screen. The Corny Collins show was her favourite to watch and she was desperate to be a part of it. Her gushy school-girl crush, Link Larkin, was on the show so when there was an opportunity for a new dancer she grabbed the chance to get near him with both hands.

She was laughed out the of audition by snobbish, racist producer Velma Von Tussle (played by Gina Murray). But Tracy had a dream and nothing was going to stop her!

Everything changes when she meets Seaweed and the other black dancers who were only invited on the Corny Collins show once a month when it was ‘Negro Day’ (As if they’re supposed to feel privileged at that??!!)

After Seaweed taught her some epic dance moves, Tracy charms her way into the show as Corny Collins himself thinks she is a breath of ‘fresh air’!

And she was! The larger than life character changed how the world viewed the integration of black and white communities as well as the stereotypical view of putting a big girl on screen… well in Baltimore at least anyway.

The characters

Rebecca Mendoza’s performance as Tracy was really inspirational; to see how hard she fought for equality, she just didn’t understand why they couldn’t all dance together and wanted Negro Day to be EVERY DAY!

Motormouth Maybelle (Seaweed’s Mum) was their leader and was played so well by Brenda Edwards. Tracy’s parents, Edna and Wilbur Turnblad (played by Matt Rixon and Norman Pace) we’re just brilliant. They worked so well together and their rendition of “You’re timeless to me” was hilarious!

The Songs

The singing was out of this world. Former X-Factor contestant Brenda Edwards (playing Motormouth) completely blew me away with one of her solos; “I know where I’ve been”

All of the cast voices were fantastic, especially the black girl group, Dynamite (Emily-Mae, Melissa Nettleford & Lauren Concannon). All the great songs were included from the film like “Good Morning Baltimore”, “Big Blonde and Beautiful”, You’re timeless to me”,”Without Love” and the unmissable “You can’t stop the beat.”

Link Larkin and Tracy had great voices and chemistry on stage they made the story so believable and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it unfold.

The cast looked like they were having a blast and I was completely mesmerised by their performance. The dancing was out of this world too; they were so professional. Thank you to Drew McOnie for the amazing choreography!

The Costumes

The costumes were full of glitz and glam, bright colours, swing dresses, brightly coloured suits for the male dancers – Fabuloso!

Not to forget the band either as they were superb, they really brought the songs to life and had me itching to dance.

In short…

Despite being a fun, quirky musical, it’s actually a compelling story about the battle for equal rights; showcased in it’s most simple form – to dance together no matter your size or the colour of your skin.

The whole show was filled with laughs that I didn’t expect. It’s really uplifting, fun, educational, and thought-provoking with a ton of laughs thrown in!

Those of you who are planning to see it this week, you are seriously in for a treat of epic proportions. Those of you who haven’t booked yet, where’s your head at?!

Don’t miss out, there’s still some tickets left! It’s running every evening this week until Saturday plus matinees on Thursday and Saturday. Tickets from £20 too which you can book online at hulltheatres.co.uk

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