Liverpool Empire: Hairspray


You can’t stop the motion of the ocean – and you certainly can’t stop yourself smiling the whole way through the wonderful touring production of ‘Hairspray’, which rolled into Liverpool last night.

Set in 1962, ‘Hairspray’ is jam packed with big hair, big hearts and even bigger laughs. Baltimore’s larger than life Tracey Turnblad, wonderfully performed by Freya Sutton, who reprises her role in the hit production, is transformed from outsider to over night teen sensation after bagging a spot on local TV programme, “The Corny Collins Show”. ‘Hairspray’ is an homage to the swinging 60’s; with colourful costumes and toe tapping music but also tackles the issue of race and segregation throughout that time period and a young girl’s journey to be accepted, regardless of her size.


Now before I go on, I have a confession – I’m not the biggest fan of musicals. I fell asleep during Mamma Mia, got fidgety watching Legally Blonde and never quite understood the hype surrounding Dirty Dancing’s musical adaptation. While Hairspray didn’t win me over and have me keen to see more musicals, I was certainly the only one in the audience who didn’t have an absolute ball last night. Standing ovations ensured I was stood more times than I was sat, laughter filled the theatre and everyone was clearly balled over by the cast’s flawless performances.

Many of the big laughs come from the loveable Penny Pingleton’s (Monique Young) naivety and her ditzy quips. As Tracey’s loyal, supporting sidekick, Hood’s comic timing ensured the stalls were filled with laughter. And while each individual character gives pitch perfect vocal performances, Motormouth Maybelle’s (Brenda Edwards) rendition of “Big, Blonde & Beautiful” actually warranted a standing ovation throughout the song, so mesmerized were the audience of Marvin hitting some outrageously high notes.

A special note must go to the costume department for putting many of the male cast in very tight trousers which led to my friend purchasing some binoculars for better viewing – he *really* enjoyed the show.

There’s no doubt about it, ‘Hairspray’ is big, bold and bursting with talented stars, a musical guaranteed to have you singing and dancing along in your seat – even if you’re bit of a miserable cow like me.

Hairspray is on at the Liverpooll Empire until Saturday the 17th October – You can book tickets here.