Reviewed by David Smith
6 July 2012
Hairspray brings us the pizzazz, music and styles of the early Sixties, along with underlying themes of love and racial equality. Matt Byrne’s production captured it all with great flair.
While Act 1 took a while to get moving, the massive cast of sixty quickly established the show’s exuberant spirit. With great energy and sense of ensemble they had the place rocking. Sue Pole’s choreography was precise and exciting. She made good use of the stage and David Gauci’s simple stylised set. That was especially effective in the Act 2 opener ‘The Big Doll House’, where the singers and dancers smoothly rearranged the prison bars to suit the action.
Rodney Hvartin conducted the well-tuned and talented orchestra which sensitively set the mood all through the production.
Leading the strong and balanced cast, Michelle Davy was stunning as Tracy Turnblad. With just the right combination of naivety and determination, she firmly captured the audience’s heart. Brady Lloyd was the perfect foil as Link Larkin, impressing with strong characterisation and slick dancing. Their duet ‘It Takes Two’ was a highlight.
David Gauci was a big, wonderful Edna. His comic timing was exceptional and he balanced that with touching poignancy. Act 2 brings out much more of Edna’s character, most movingly in the duet ‘Timeless To Me’ with Brendan Cooney (Wilbur).
There were many eye-catching performances. Danae Lloyd as the tetchy Amber, Kat Sachse (Penny), Lisa Simonetti (Motormouth Maybelle), Igor Egiraneza (Seaweed) and Joshua Penley (Corny Collins) all shone in their roles.
Right up to the fabulous final chorus ‘You Can’t Stop the Beat’, Hairspray proved that vibrant, relevant musical theatre is alive and thriving.