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HAIRSPRAY

LIVERPOOL EMPIRE THEATRE

AUGUST 17 – SEPTEMBER 4

DIRECTOR: MARK HILTON
PRODUCER: STAGE ENTERTAINMENT UK
CAST INCLUDES: MICHAEL STARKE, LES DENNIS DINA TREE, LIAM DOYLE, SANDRA MARVIN, GILLIAN KILPATRICK, CLARE HALSE, EMMA DUKES, DANY BAYNE

RUNNING TIME: 2 HRS 40 MINS

 

Promotional poster for Hairspray

 


Big, bright and beautiful, this new touring production of Hairspray certainly ticks all the right boxes to make a great night of entertainment that is more than ably enhanced by an exemplary cast.

Its 1962, the 50s are out and change is in the air.  Baltimore’s Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, has only one passion – dancing.  She wins a spot on the local TV dance programme, The Corny Collins Show and, overnight, is transformed from outsider to irrepressible teen celebrity and then infamous media target when encouraging local black kids to show their own talents beside on the same show . 

 

Okay, the story may not sound that original – Ugly Duckling turns into swan without losing her sense of moral value – but when the added ingredient of “Integration Not Segregation” is added, then the concept that runs throughout gives the whole scenario a depth . Whilst never becoming or wanting to become a crusade, the message does give the show some purpose in a way that the Sound of Music does to anti-Nazism.

However, if there is one complaint it is that the first half – at 1 hour and 20 minutes – is a little too long. Like with the transformation of Cinderella at the end of Act 1, the show as a whole might well be more balanced against its hour-long 2nd half by being curtailed the moment we first see Edna in all her stunning glory?

That said, it’s the numbers, the performances and the costumes that people want to see and hear and this Hairspray certainly hits the spot on all three counts.  Dina Tree – an understudy for the evening – should certainly have a fabulous future in front of her, as her Tracy Turnblad holds the stage in the palm of her hand and encourages the audience to like her through her sheer charisma and ability.

Gillian Kilpatrick and Clare Halse as the Velma and Amber von Tussle would make just about every Evil Sister duo in theatre pale into insignificance were their characters not mother and daughter, such is the way their exquisite nastiness portrayed.

Wayne Robinson as Seaweed, the naturally gifted black dancer from the streets, certainly has the moves to impress, whereas Emma Dukes as Penny Pingleton is delightfully and charmingly naive. Liam Doyle, as Link Larkin, is another from a fine younger generation on show who is without doubt an up and comer to watch.

Yet it is the older hands that keep everything ticking along.  Les Dennis in a smaller role than might be expected as Wilbur, Tracy’s father, bounces so well off fellow Scouser Michael Starke’s quite magnificently, as Starke’s energetic Edna, and at only his second time of asking, makes the whole thing roll along faster and faster the longer the night goes on. The pair’s duet, You’re Timeless To Me might not have gone entirely as planned, but nevertheless came close to stealing the plaudits for its comic interpretation, whereas Starke’s timing, delivery and overall enthusiasm for the role stands head and shoulders above all others.

Yet the singing plaudits are captured and held by the performance of Sandra Marvin, who’s solo I Know Where I’ve Been propels her Motormouth Maybelle to the heavens. What an incredible voice this actor has and if Roger Taylor, Brian May and Ben Elton are still looking for a new Killer Queen for We Will Rock You when it comes to town in 2011, then look no further than Marvin.

She is quite outstanding.

With a closing number in You Can’t Stop The Beat guaranteed to have toes tapping and hands clapping, a set that is stunningly simply yet impressively effective and an array of costumes that are quite mesmerizingly sumptuous, Hairspray is show that delights at every turn with a chocolate box mix of flavours and colours that will leave you begging for more.

Chris High.

2010 UK TOUR SCHEDULE

17 AUGUST – 4 SEPTEMBER
LIVERPOOL EMPIRE THEATRE – Michael Starke and Les Dennis will be playing at this venue          
0844 847 2525 
www.liverpoolempire.org.uk

7 SEPTEMBER – 18 SEPTEMBER
SUNDERLAND EMPIRE – Michael Starke and Les Dennis will be playing at this venue          
0844 847 24 99
www.sunderlandempire.org.uk

21 SEPTEMBER – 9 OCTOBER
MILTON KEYNES THEATRE – Brian Conley and Les Dennis will be playing at this venue                  
0844 871 7652
www.miltonkeynestheatre.com

12 OCTOBER – 23 OCTOBER
OXFORD NEW THEATRE – Brian Conley and Les Dennis will be playing at this venue 
0844 847 1585 
www.newtheatreoxford.org.uk

25 OCTOBER – 6 NOVEMBER
BIRMINGHAM HIPPODROME – Brian Conley and Les Dennis will be playing at this venue
0844 338 5000
www.birminghamhippodrome.com

16 NOVEMBER – 27 NOVEMBER
DUBLIN GRAND CANAL THEATRE – Michael Ball and Micky Dolenz will be playing at this venue
0818 719 377
www.grandcanaltheatre.ie

30 NOVEMBER – 11 DECEMBER
BRADFORD ALHAMBRA – Michael Starke and Micky Dolenz will be playing at this venue     
01274 432 000
www.bradford-theatres.co.uk

14 DECEMBER – 9 JANUARY
EDINBURGH PLAYHOUSE – Michael Ball and Micky Dolenz will be playing at this venue
0844 847 1660
www.edinburghplayhouse.org.uk

29MARCH-9APRIL
ABERDEEN HIS MAJESTY'S THEATRE - Micky Dolenz will be playing this venue
01224641122
www.boxofficeaberdeen.com

12 - 30 APRIL
BRISTOL HIPPODROME - Micky Dolenz will be playing at this venue
0844 847 2325
www.bristolhippodrome.org.uk

 

Click here to view details and book for the Liverpool Empire Theatre
www.liverpoolempire.org.uk


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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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