Why the two women sitting next to me at the Princess Theatre left at interval and never returned remains an unfathomable mystery. How could anyone not stay to the very end of Hairspray – one of the most entertaining, joyous and energetic shows to hit our stages for some time?
This is Grease on steroids, and set very much in the same era. It is loud (perhaps over-loud in places), raucous and frenetic. It also has a plot that builds well beyond the basic musical comedy storyline (misfit girl dreams of fame etc etc plus girl meets boy, loses boy, regains boy) and delves deeply into the apartheid that riddled the US for far too long.
Added fun and pleasure come from the show’s extraordinary use of animation with cartoon characters and scene settings springing into larger than life all around the main action. Who could forget the police divvy van which whisks everyone off to jail at the close of the first half? And what about that magical Astaire and Rogers dance scene that was such a show-stopper that the two actors (Trevor Ashley and Grant Piro) themselves were convulsed in laughter?
The energy of every cast member is amazing but none more so than Jaz Flowers as Tracy Turnblad, who was still jiving away well after the rest of the cast had left the stage. And as for Trevor Ashley, well, it’s still hard to believe that there is a man inside the skin of the oversize and outrageous Edna Turnblad.
Little wonder that this show has swept all awards before it. All credit to dance whizz and director David Atkins for maintaining the Broadway standard for this all-Australian production. Something not to be missed – or to be abandoned at interval.