REVIEW: Hairspray the musical at Brighton's Theatre Royal

Wow – it was so good to be back at the theatre this week.

Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 10:48 pm
Updated Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 10:50 pm
Hairspray the musical is on at Brighton's Theatre Royal until Saturday, September 25
Hairspray the musical is on at Brighton's Theatre Royal until Saturday, September 25

I didn’t actually realise just how much I had missed it until I arrived at Brighton’s beautiful Theatre Royal on Monday for the opening night of Hairspray.

Outside was abuzz with excited people, eager to get inside and take their seats – and I was one of them!

I saw Hairspray on Broadway a long time ago and then six years ago at the Theatre Royal back home in Brighton. Although it had been a while, I thought I knew what to expect with the story of the girl with the big hair with big dreams to dance on TV.

Some of the fantastic cast of Hairspray

But, when the curtains raised and Tracy Turnblad (Katie Brace) started to sing the opening number Good Morning Baltimore, I was taken by surprise.

It was one of those hair standing up on the back of the neck moments and I felt a bit overwhelmed and tearful. It was just so wonderful to see an actor in the flesh, a beautiful strong voice filling the theatre, the bright lights, the fantastic set and costumes – and all while sat in the red velvet nostalgic surroundings.

You'll be pleased to know I soon composed myself and concentrated on the show being performed before me and, what a show it was. There was song after brilliant song from a mesmerising cast, perfectly combining feel-good moments and triumph and some slick dance moves with a serious message about prejudice in 1960s Baltimore.

The amazing cast includes musical theatre performer and television presenter Brenda Edwards (Chicago, We Will Rock You, The X Factor, Loose Women and Songs of Praise) as Motormouth Maybelle – what a voice!

Hairspray is set in 1960s Baltimore

Norman Pace (ITV’s The Hale and Pace Show) plays Wilbur Turnblad who will win your heart when he performs (You’re) Timeless To Me alongside the brilliant West End leading man Alex Bourne (Annie, Mamma Mia!, We Will Rock You) as his wife Edna Turnblad.

It is really was hard to believe that Katie Brace was making her professional stage debut as Tracy Turnblad – she was faultless and endearing.

Rebecca Jane Davies as Penny Pingleton also stood out for me but the whole cast did themselves proud and the standing ovation at the end was well deserved.

Hairspray is at the Theatre Royal until Saturday and if you haven’t been back to the theatre yet, like me, then there’s no better show to see on your return.