Birmingham Hippodrome... Hairspray: The Musical

Hairspray! No, not the stuff you style your hair with, I'm on about the musical! Taking a break for one night I ditched the booze for the theatre to see Hairspray at Birmingham's Hippodrome Theatre. Grabbing a bargain priced ticket I was transported back to Baltimore, well in a fashion through the musical! Tracy Turnblad, don't ever stop that beat! Let's get that curtain up! Okay?

Why Hairspray? Why not! This current show happened to be my second time seeing Hairspray The Musical, after seeing it previously some years ago. During my American Industrial Placement in 2012, I went down to Baltimore, Maryland to see if the movies had done Tracy Turnblad's home city any justice. If truth be told I saw similarities with Baltimore and the movies both original and remade. The row houses of Baltimore's Eastern Ave did just the trick, something about seeing that edgy city made me love Hairspray even more! Keeping the image of Eastern Avenue in my head I embraced Birmingham's edition of Hairspray's 2013 UK Tour. The line-up looked great with a respectably well known cast, I was quite impressed! Being a lover of the theatre and musicals most importantly I am sold every time with Hairspray with its up beat vibe and its fight for racial integration. Yes, university students can be cultured! I know I am!

With a Drag Mama and racial segregation this musical deals with serious issues with a sprinkling of musical theatre magic. What story can span two films, one original released in 1988 that starred TV host Ricki Lake as Tracy Turnblad, right through to 2007 when John Travolta amazed us as the new Edna Turnblad in the remake. It was Good Morning Baltimore! Well more like Good Evening Birmingham! Tracy had took to the stage, singing the opening tune 'Good Morning, Baltimore!' with some gusto! I got into the rhythm of the show instantly, reminiscing about my Baltimore day. Actor 'Mark Benton' took to the stage as Tracy's mom Edna Turnblad, looking every-inch the fabulous lady Edna is! 'Benton' embodied the same qualities like 'John Travolta' did in the remake film but what about 'Divine?!' The Corny Collins Show wowed the audience with their vocal efforts, were they 'the coolest kids in town?' I was in my own kind of theatre heaven, nothing beats going to the theatre B! Oh, oh, o!

Bringing the drama was Velma Von Tussle, played by Ex-Eastenders actress 'Lucy Benjamin.' 'Lucy' worked her role perfectly just like the self obsessed and over protective mother she was playing! Tracy had her Baltimore savoir faire at all times, proclaiming that she could hear the bells. We could all rejoice for Tracy's mama was made very welcome to be a part of the sixties! From detention to the final showdown 'Marcus Collins' embodied the personality and groove of Seaweed, mesmirising Tracy's friend Penny Pingleton. Could this show get anymore camp, there was an Ex-Eastender actress and an X-Factor finalist! Tracy Turnblad held her head up high throughout all the adversity that she faced, the real star in this show! Amongst the big show tunes Tracy Turnblad had a dream to be a dancer on the Corny Collins Show, she wouldn't be deterred by the shade thrown at her! I bowed down to Tracy Turnblad!

Whilst I remain living in the heart of Birmingham's city centre I want to continue with seeing as many shows that my student loan will allow! Yes! Back to the show! Through Tracy's defiance at school she got friendly with some African American students who suffered racial discrimination everyday! Tracy learnt a few dance moves during her spells of detention and realised why these people didn't have the same freedoms that she took for granted! Teaming up with Seaweed and Motormoth Maybelle, Tracy Turnblad took it to the streets being a part of the race riots for equality! Mama Turnblad got out of comfort zone to realise her world hadn't disappeared completely! I'm not sure what part of the show I've got to right now but I'm cool with that! Tracy's mama was serving the 60's! Dragging her from a state of depression Tracy Turnblad took her mama to the salon and for a spot of shopping to realise she still had that spice in her life! This musical empowers first and foremost! Go TT!

You can't stop the beat! Against all odds Tracy Turnblad escaped from prison! Tracy T was locked up for protesting! Escaping just in the nick of time she was hidden in the giant can of Ultra Clutch Hairspray to make her grand entrance! You already know that Tracy was rightfully crowned Miss Hairspray, proudly defeating Amber Von Tussle. I think that this time around my love for Hairspray The Musical has only grown! Penny Pingleton forgot about her religious mother to become a 'checkerboard chick' as she danced with Seaweed! To finish the show the whole cast took to the stage, signing 'You Can't Stop The Beat". Edna Turnblad made her entrance by springing out of a giant 'Ultra Clutch' hairspray can! Tracy got her man, bagging a cheeky snog with Link Larkin! Leaving the Corny Collins Show finally became a racially integrated show at long last! You don't need to be blond and skinny to win Amber Von Tussle! No way!

Tracy got her man and that mean girl got knocked off from the top spot! Has modern American been influenced by this upbeat musical theatre show? Now, that's a question that I wanted answering! Going to Baltimore, Maryland won't ever be the same, well that's if I decided to return? I'm all about the housing projects of Atlanta next! Hairspray wowed me, just as I expected it to if I'm completely honest! I know that spending £20.00 on a ticket for this show was worth every single penny! Everyone loves an underdog, now that's why we love Tracy Turnblad! This musical never ceases to amaze me, I think I shall be watching both of the movies all summer after seeing this show again! I am pleased to announce that I shall be returning back to the Birmingham Hippodrome theatre again on the 4th of June to see Coppelia. I can't get enough of it! After seeing this show two times I can't promise it will be the last time that I see this show! So, until next time Hairspray! Keep on dancing Tracy, Tracy!

Don't You Stop The Beat! No!

Joseph Harrison


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