Hairspray

Hairspray-2017-3

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Ever popular audience favourite Hairspray burst into Manchester last night for a fun, feisty and feel-good two week stop at the city’s Opera House theatre.

Multi-coloured and multi-layered this is an uplifting and vibrant production with a serious and important message at its heart. Based on the 1988 John Waters film, Hairspray follows Baltimore teenager, Tracy Turnblad’s dream to dance on The Corny Collins Show. Tracy isn’t as conventionally looking as the show’s usual crew and faces an uphill battle from the start. What begins as a burning ambition to win a role on her favourite teen show soon becomes a campaign for social change which sees Tracy crusade to promote racial integration as she battles not only bigots but body shamers too.

Hairspray-2017

Newcomer Rebecca Mendoza makes her professional debut and as the bright, bold and beautiful Tracy Turnblad with a big voice and personality to match her buoyant bouffant she perfectly embodies the impassioned teen. Her comedic acting really raises her performance from excellent to exceptional and she puff and pants to perfection every time teen idol Link Larkin (Edward Chitticks) comes near.

Annalise Liard-Bailey smashes her professional debut as Penny Pingleton, the stunning pairing of Liard-Bailey and Layton Williams being a real highlight of the show, Williams shines as Seaweed, ensuring all eyes are upon him as he twists and flips across the stage, both are an absolute joy to watch.

Brenda Edwards returns as the mighty Motormouth Maybelle and raises the roof with her soulful and emotional rendition of I know where I’ve been. While theatre has a job to entertain it also has important role in educating audiences, which Edwards and cast do so with gusto.

Matt Rixton (Edna) and Graham MacDuff (tonight covering the role of Wilbur) solidify their status as audience favourites with each outrageous and hilarious scene, they’re clearly having just as much fun on stage as the audience off stage as they delight and deliver in style.

While it promotes a message of equality and inclusion Hairspray does it with such wit and charm it is anything but preachy. Drew McOnie’s punchy choreography ensures the pace always remains high while Takis’ sets and costumes are bright, blingy and whisk us straight back to the sixties.

With a vibrant and memorable score including numbers such as You Can’t Stop the Beat, Welcome to the Sixities and Good Morning Baltimore Hairspray never fails to entertain as the audience leapt to their feet in approval. Empowering, uplifting and most of all enormously entertaining!

On at the Opera House until Saturday 7th April tickets available here.

Thoroughly Modern Millie

TMM - Joanne Clifton as Millie and Company (c) Darren Bell - Copy

Thoroughly Modern Millie arrived in Manchester last night under the strangest and most difficult of circumstances, less than 24hrs before; a horrific act of terrorism ripped through the foyer of the nearby MEN arena and left the city in a complete state of shock and disbelief. There were multiple fatalities and many more serious injuries, even now concert goes remain unaccounted for. Despite this horrendous and cowardly attack on our city, Manchester did not shut down, Manchester did what Manchester does, we carried on, we helped each other, we looked after each other, we were and are, defiant. After careful consideration and advice from the relevant authorities, it was decided that despite the devastation and hurt caused by the terror attack, the show must and would go on.

Taking to the stage just before curtain up cast member Graham MacDuff made a beautiful and emotive speech, he then led the audience in a minute silence which in true Manchester style once the minute was over became a rapturous applause. Theatre goers whilst devastated were determined that fear wouldn’t keep them away and thankfully the cast and company of Thoroughly Modern Millie were the perfect tonic.

TMM - Graham MacDuff as Mr Trevor Graydon, Joanne Clifton as Millie and Company (c) Darren Bell - Copy

Joanne Clifton is without doubt at the top of her game right now, after lifting the 2016 Strictly Mirrorball trophy with Ore Oduba, she is a talent in high demand. Taking on a role made famous by the legendary Julie Andrews can be no mean feat; however Clifton undoubtedly makes it her own, she fizzes with charisma and literally oozes with talent as the sassy and sparkling Millie. Whilst audiences will be most familiar with her dancing skills she also delivers the iconic songs effortlessly and with great style, her acting too is on point as her perky determination to succeed has the audience rooting for her from the off.

TMM - Katherine Glover as Miss Dorothy Brown,, Graham Macduff as Mr Trevor Graydon and Joanne Clifton as Millie (c) Da

Millie arrives from Kansas determined to bag herself a husband and a glamorous new life in the big apple, things don’t quite go according to plan as she ends up broke and bunking in a dodgy flophouse run by an even dodgier Mrs Meers (Lucas Rush) who unbeknown to Millie is a white slave trader, shipping unsuspecting orphan girls across the seas to Hong Kong. The story is delightfully daft and superbly silly allowing for some truly genius comedic moments. Lucas Rush has audiences howling through his exaggerated performance as the menacing Mrs Meers, the switch from faux Chinese maiden to deep voiced convict is hilarious as he tires of the giggly girls he houses. Special mention must also go to Graham MacDuff, his performance as Trevor Graydon is a joy, the scene where Millie and Jimmy (Sam Barrett) find him roaring drunk after he thinks he’s been stood up by Dorothy (Katherine Glover) is an absolute hoot, tears of laughter streamed down my face as this riotous romp unfolded. Clifton and Barrett as Millie and Jimmy make for the perfect coupling, they bounce off each other brilliantly and their dancing is a really beautiful highlight in this great fun production.

Millie

Thoroughly Modern Millie is a delight, funny, feel-good and flippin’ fantastic! With stunning costumes, dazzling dance routines, a beautiful score and brilliant book, quite literally has it all. We must thank and congratulate the cast and company for going ahead with the show in what must have been the most difficult of circumstances, you gave your heart and souls to Manchester last night, bringing joy and much needed laughter, a total toe-tapping treat from start to finish.

On at the Palace Theatre until Saturday tickets available here http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/thoroughly-modern-millie/palace-theatre-manchester/