You can’t stop the beat… or the fantastic cast of Hairspray the musical at Grand Opera House Belfast this week. Hairspray is infectious, it’s cheesy and it’s just one of those fabulous feel good musicals. You can’t help but sing and dance along. The tunes get stuck in your head for weeks and you are green with envy at the cast members as they strut their stuff on stage.

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If you don’t know the story of Tracy Turnblad where have you been?! Hairspray is the story of a big girl (curvy, plus size whatever label you want to use) with big hair in Baltimore in the 60’s. Tracy is inspirational she wants to achieve her dreams to dance on national TV, she wants to win equality and like most teenagers she wants prince charming to come and sweep her off her feet. I first encountered the tale through the movie adaption in 2007 and immediately fell in love with the charm, the show tunes and Zac Efron’s Link Larkin. Hairspray got a Live TV debut last year by NBC with a host of stars but regrettably this was the first time I got a chance to see the musical onstage.

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The stage show adds some much more depth to the characters and so many more elements of talent. The actors are all in their own right triple threats, they dance, they sing and they truly entertain. This latest touring production courtesy of Mark Goucher, Matthew Gale and Laurence Myers is sure to put a bounce in your step and I smile on your face.
The show is staged with moving red brick houses and projected scenery this means that the stage space is left somewhat clear for the real action; the dance. Choreographed by Drew McOnie the dancing is fast paced, practised and seems to come easily to the performers. I was in awe of the talented Lyton Williams’ energetic performance as Seaweed as well as the twists, tumbles and grooves coming from the ensemble.

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Rebecca Mendoza as Tracy is loveable, courageous and thankfully in tune throughout the production not an easy task when you throw in some rapid costume changes and a lot of choreography. Her parents Edna and Wilbur played by Matt Rixon and Norman Pace are hilarious and brought lots of comedy and heart to the piece. Tracy’s best friend Penny played by Annalise Liard-Bailey was perfectly dim but delightful and Edward Chittick’s heart throb Link captured a young talented Elvis wannabe. However for me the vocals which stole the show came from Brenda Edwards who played Motor mouth Maybelle. Her soulful tones sang right into my heart and made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this production of Hairspray it was colourful, comedic and popped right off the stage. The audience sang along and rewarded the company with a standing ovation and rounding applause which was deserved. I left humming the tunes and wanting to get my hands on a bedazzled 60s dress. Congratulations to all involved.
Emer D xx
Hairspray The Musical runs until Saturday 4th November at the Grand Opera House Belfast tickets are going fast but if you want to snap up the last few remaining pop over to