REVIEW: Hairspray, Opera House, Blackpool

St Annes own Gina Murray, right, as Velma Von Tussle, with Aimee Moore as Amber
St Annes own Gina Murray, right, as Velma Von Tussle, with Aimee Moore as Amber
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In 1960s Baltimore, Tracy Turnblad has a simple dream; to be one of the popular kids and to dance on the Corny Collins’ TV show.

Stage newcomer Rebecca Mendoza shines as the big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, living the dream, in her professional debut, just like her character does.

The cast of Hairspray

The cast of Hairspray

A large supporting cast and full ensemble excels across the board.

Comedian Norman Pace makes for a loveable Wilbur, Tracy’s dad, in perfectly pitched partnership alongside Matt Rixon as Tracy’s larger than life mum Edna.

And St Annes own Gina Murray is a superb baddie in the pristine shape of Velma Von Tussle. From making her local professional debut in 2001 as part of ABBA musical Money Money Money, she’s clearly gone on to be a stage star, and her voice in this is fantastic, as is her relationship with stage daughter Amber, played by Aimee Moore.

Layton Williams, who some may recognise from sitcom Bad Education, and understudies Ben Darcy and Daniel Clift were all hugely talented as Seaweed, Corny Collins and Link Larkin, as was another newcomer Annalise Liard-Bailey as Tracy’s best friend Penny.

Norman Pace and Matt Rixon as Wilbur and Edna Turnblad

Norman Pace and Matt Rixon as Wilbur and Edna Turnblad

But it’s Brenda Edwards as Motormouth Maybelle who leaves the audience stunned into silence - before rapturous applause - with her rendition of the emotional torch song I Know Where I’ve Been.

The show’s a real musical theatre spectacular, perfectly fitting the expanse of the Opera House stage, with the ensemble making the most of the space to showcase fantastic choreography by Drew McOnie.

And the set and costumes designed by Takis, help bring everything together to dazzle in this new staging by director Paul Kerryson.

While Hairspray is shrouded in bubblegum pink with more than a healthy smattering of sequins, it’s got so much heart and soul, tackling race politics and school bullying.

Brenda Edwards as Motormouth Maybelle

Brenda Edwards as Motormouth Maybelle

Despite the weighty issues, a packed Opera House audience was sent out on to the streets with huge grins on their faces and plenty of catchy songs in their heads thanks to this feel-good production.

* Until Saturday.

Rebecca Mendoza as Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray

Rebecca Mendoza as Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray