Good Morning...Milton Keynes. No, we are not in Baltimore, but we could be forgiven for thinking so as Hairspray hits Milton Keynes Theatre and will have you dancing to the beat. Because we all know, you can’t stop the beat!
Hairspray is one of my favourite shows. You cannot help but love Tracy Turnblad’s enthusiasm and positive attitude. The story is set in Baltimore during the early 60’s. Her mum doesn’t really understand her obsession with music and especially the Corny Collins Show that Tracy and her best friend, Penny, watch religiously. When they hear that the show is looking for a new dancer, Tracy decides to apply, she has never let her size stop her before so why should it now. Tracy is played by Katie Brace and she is a star. Her innocence yet pushing the boundaries is a perfect balance of how Tracy should be. Katie gives a faultless performance with her powerhouse of a voice.
Her mother Edna, is traditionally played by a man and Alex Bourne makes a beautiful Edna. He hones his inner motherly instincts and looks fabulous in his dresses. To be honest he stole the show; he has completely embodied this role and is very funny. Outstanding work Alex. Edna’s husband, Wilbur is played by Paul Hutton on this performance. The number ‘You’re timeless to me’ always goes down well with the audience and Paul had a great voice which was demonstrated during this number.
Motormouth Maybelle is played by the legendary Brenda Edwards. This is her third time Playing this role. Brenda says: ‘I love the songs. It’s such a feel-good show. The show takes everybody on a wonderful journey. Even though some of the storylines are hard-hitting, they’re put across in a light-hearted way.’ Brenda is always exceptional. This woman has soul coming out of every pore and her version of ‘I know where I’ve been’ was very emotional. After the Black Lives Matter movement, I hear this song differently. I always realised that Hairspray addressed racism, but somehow (and sadly) it still feels current. I want to give a shout out to Seaweed, played by Akeem Ellis-Hyman who can dance and has a soft soulful voice. This show boasts a talented cast, and the band are also exceptional and looked very smart in their suits (yes, I noticed). I also loved the set. It is clever how the houses go in and out the façade of the front of the house, and I liked the use of graphics to make the streets feel longer. You are absorbed into the show with sets like this.
I may be biased but this is a fantastic show and has that feel-good factor. You can feel the energy and positivity and will leave the theatre singing and dancing on your way home.
So, backcomb your hair, put on your dancing shoes and get along to Hairspray at Milton Keynes theatre. Tickets available here.