Hairspray ★★★★ London Coliseum | Until September 29, 2021


Hairspray fills the air at the London Coliseum with a heady whiff of 60's charm. At times it isn't just the beehive hairstyles which need a little support; the plot, based on John Waters’ 1988 film, is fairly simplistic, but the endless stream of Jerry Mitchell's brightly choreographed numbers keeps everything bouncing. There isn't a lot of dialogue – which may be a benefit since it sometimes comes over as rather screeched. Mercifully the songs make it all worthwhile; who could resist "Good Morning Baltimore" or "You Can't Stop The Beat"? Marisha Wallace stops the show with her gospel number whilst the Supremes-like trio are dynamite. As Tracy Turnblad, Lizzie Bea certainly fills the bill and is a delight. However, it is Michael Ball who dominates the proceedings. He's a magnificent Edna Turnblad. Bravely, his first scenes are very downbeat and unglamorous, but then he transforms into a glittering star who is just short of becoming a pantomime dame. His years of experience pay off as every word, wink and nuance is spot on; he never over-eggs the pudding. In the duet with his husband, Wilbur, Ball shows his stagecraft by rescuing what could have been an embarrassment as Les Dennis sometimes seems out of his depth as Wilbur. Jack O'Brien directs everything at breakneck speed in David Rockwell's delightfully colourful sets. Seeing a packed house on their feet and cheering at the final curtain shows just how much we've missed theatre – Good Evening Hairspray!

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Photo by Tristram Kenton.

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