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Reviewed: Hairspray at Curve

Hairspray was an absolute joy to watch, lighting up the Cultural Quarter.

Photo by Mark Senior

Based on the New Line Cinema film written by John Waters, the stage adaptation of Hairspray tells the story of a plump teenager Tracy Turnblad who teaches 1962 Baltimore a thing or two about integration after landing a spot on a local TV dance show.

I was both entertained and educated by Mark Goucher and Matthew Gayle’s production of Hairspray. The performers were hysterical and I found myself crying with laughter at times but the story marked a turning point for Baltimore and was littered with politics on conventional femininity, racism and protest.

The songs are infectious and impossibly hard not to sing along to such as the 'New Girl In Town' and 'Big, Blonde and Beautiful'. It’s unbelievable how the cast sustains the energy required for each number as it quickly rolls from one to another.

The set and costumes were psychedelic and vibrant, perfectly matching the same energy of the spectacular performance and the era.

Alex Bourne's performance of Edna Turnblad resembled a pantomime dame, especially with her husband Wilbur Turnblad, performed by Norman Pace.

At times, it may seem that Wilbur is perhaps overshadowed by his wife Edna, however, the pair perform in unison during their performance of It 'Only Takes Two', evoking romance, comedy and some serious camp.

Brenda Edwards steals the show with her hit, 'I Know Where I’ve been', a show stopping song which brought the audience to their feet and some in tears. Her words; “We can’t get lazy when things get crazy” is still applicable today and is a reminder that we still fight to end racism today and we mustn’t give up.

Each character perfectly captured the hope of the civil rights movement and sadly reminded me of the lack of progress made since the Black Lives Matter protests last year.

The show had a wonderful mix of gospel, cabaret, pantomime and musical hall comedy, uniting them all in a unique manner.

As a big fan of the 2007 film Hairspray, I was inspired by the intricacy of detail in every element of the performance from the costumes, the set and lighting. So much so it felt like you were part of Baltimore in the 1960s, transported into the past.

As we piled out of the theatre into Leicester’s Cultural Quarter, I was reminded of how lucky I am to live in an incredibly diverse and inclusive community in Leicester, and although we have come a long way since Baltimore in 1962, we still experience racism and need to continue to strive to break down prejudices.

It was a pleasure to be invited to watch the performance at Curve and the show shouldn’t be missed by anyone, it is a performance for everyone of all ages and proves to be incredibly important in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter.

See the show until October 9. Tickets are available from £18.


Written by Becky Day

Becky has previously written copy for several social media campaigns and content for websites. She recently graduated from De Montfort University with a bachelor's degree in graphic design. She now works in design and social media at Cross Productions and works at Orton's Brasserie on the weekends.


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