Bristol Theatre News

Hairspray at the Bristol Hippodrome – Review by Chopsy Baby


Hairspray ticks all the boxes needed for an entertaining feel good West-End musical. While it doesn’t have the fire and the angst of other shows such as Les Miserables, there is an uncomfortable truth dotted behind the dance routines and TV glamour.

Inspired in part by 1963 Baltimore programme, The Buddy Deane Show, we follow the fortunes of Tracy Turnblad. She’s a plump but cheery girl who loves to dance and is determined to win a place on The Corny Collins Show. As well as achieving her ambition, she also manages to overcome the racist views of the time to allow black and white teenagers to dance together on screen.

The amazing cast is headed by Freya Sutton as Tracy Turnblad. She marks her professional debut with a heart-warming performance and brightens the stage at every opportunity.

mark benton

Brand New Customers Only Mark Benton, is a fantastic Edna Turnblad. Paired with Paul Turner as husband Wilbur, they create Comedy Gold in Act Two with Timeless to Me.

Downtown record shop owner, Motormouth Maybelle is also the host of Negro Day. Sandra Marvin as Maybelle, fills the auditorium with her powerful voice and dry wit.  Gabrielle Brooks as Seaweed’s little sister Inez, is brilliant. She pulls off the taunting younger sister as well as the characterisation of the era.

Lucy Benjamin as scheming mother and producer Velma Von Tussle, was a surprising hit. It can be hard to see past soap actors, but she gave a fine performance a million miles from previous haunts on Albert Square.

As per the title, hairspray itself was used to great effect in copious amounts during the show. The dancers created a fine mist on the stage with a jumbo Trojan Horse of a can making an appearance towards the end.

The only negative came with a stunned nervous laugh from the audience when Penny Pingleton referred to Amber Von Tussle as a Plastic Spastic. While the word Spastic means something entirely different to Americans, it is incredibly offensive in the UK and the line really should be cut.

Hairspray is at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 17 August 2013