Monday, 9 May 2016

Review: Hairspray (UK Tour) at the Churchill Theatre Bromley

Hairspray (UK Tour) 
Churchill Theatre Bromley
Reviewed on Tuesday 3rd May 2016

Juxtaposing some serious issues such as equality, racism and bullying with catchy tunes, big hair and cheesy grins galore, Hairspray is an exhilarating show with a powerful message.

Paul Kerryson's new production of Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman, Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan's musical premiered at the Leicester Curve in 2014 and I absolutely adored it. Kerryson's production returned the following year to launch a UK tour.

Whilst it was a treat to hear the glorious score live once again, I felt the show had lost some of its life and soul. A few performances felt very stale - perhaps I was unlucky and caught an off-night. The show was saved by the small but hard working ensemble who gave their all, there's a lot of talent on one stage.

At a time when touring productions are soaring from strength to strength, Hairspray's set design is notably weak. A couple of clunky blocks are brought on and off throughout, whilst one flimsy set piece caused a huge disturbance as it was lowered to the stage with an almighty thud. The stage often looks bare; during 'Welcome To The 60s' the cast give their all but are given nothing to work with. It's such a shame.

Drew McOnie has done a stellar job at re-choreographing Hairspray for its tour. As per usual, McOnie gets it spot on and fully utilises the talent of his cast who are pushed to their limits. Despite the lack of design, it is the choreography and energy of the ensemble which carry the piece.

The performance of the night was given by Brenda Edwards who is in a league of her own. Edwards has the most lusciously soulful voice that I could listen to all day. Whilst continuing to perform in Hairspray, Edwards has been undergoing treatment for breast cancer - she is an absolute inspiration. Edwards' rendition of 'I Know Where I've Been' stopped the show and brought the house down. We need her back in the West End asap.

Other stand out performances came from Jon Tsouras as Corny Collins, Tracey Penn as Female Authority Figure and killer triple threat Lauren Stroud as Amber.

After concluding its current journey around the UK later this month, Hairspray is set to return for new tour dates in 2017. Fingers crossed fresh life and some love and care is pumped into the production. Nevertheless, I had a lot of fun seeing Hairspray again. The epic finale 'You Can't Stop The Beat' never fails to bring audiences to their feet. It's a joyful, uplifting musical with more substance to it than your average feel-good show.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Hairspray tours the UK until 21st May 2016.
Please visit for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Darren Bell

No comments:

Post a Comment