Hairspray Bristol Hippodrome review - guaranteed to leave a smile on your face

‘So many amazing moments’

Cast of Hairspray UK Tour 2021Cast of Hairspray UK Tour 2021
Cast of Hairspray UK Tour 2021

Hairspray has always been one of my favourite musicals; the songs are catchy, its funny and it tackles some hard-hitting issues that are still relevant today.

I found myself singing along (in my head of course, I wouldn’t want to disrupt it for those next to me) and laughing throughout.

On a number of times I was guilty of laughing in advance as I knew what jokes were coming, yet they were still just as funny. As well as this there so many new jokes making it an entirely new experience for all, whether you’ve seen it once or one hundred times.

For anyone who does not know, Hairspray follows the story of seventeen year old Tracy Turnblad whose love for the ’Corny Collins Show’, which she watches on TV with her best friend Penny Pingleton, causes her to audition; yet due to her weight and look she is turned away.

Tracy then, with the help of teen heartthrob Link Larkin and the black dancers who are only allowed on the show on ‘Negro day’ protest to make the TV Show ‘fully integrated’.

Dancers from Hairspray UK Tour Dancers from Hairspray UK Tour
Dancers from Hairspray UK Tour

She becomes a fan favourite on the show and she fulfils her dream of winning Miss Teenage Hairspray 1962 and landing Link, her dream man.

Along the way we see the development of characters like Penny Pingleton who starts of as a good girl for her religious mother before later learning there is fun to be had when the rules get broken.

Watching the show at Bristol’s Hippodrome, the performances of each individual cast member came together to form a spectacle that removed me from Bristol, for a few hours and sent me all the way to Baltimore.

One thing I always look out for when watching a musical is the characterisation of the swing characters. I was very impressed with all the swings, you could look to the background of any scene and see something extra going on between characters.

Katie Brace was superb as Tracy Turnblad - you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was not her professional debut, she led so well and I can’t wait to see her in whatever else she’s in. An absolute powerhouse.

Katie Brace as Tracy TurnbladKatie Brace as Tracy Turnblad
Katie Brace as Tracy Turnblad

Talking of powerhouses , also look at Brenda Edwards who was in the role of Motormouth Maybelle and there isn’t much to say about her other than just wow.

The gospel and Mowtown tones gave me literal chills.

Brenda Edwards as Motormouth MaybelleBrenda Edwards as Motormouth Maybelle
Brenda Edwards as Motormouth Maybelle

Having been in Bristol throughout the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer, in some of the scenes there were some definite similarities to the themes tackled in hairspray and it does make you pause for a second to think about how far the world has come and hpw far we all have yet to go until we are all equal.

Protest Scene HairsprayProtest Scene Hairspray
Protest Scene Hairspray

There were so many amazing moments during Hairspray but without a doubt it had to be the hit (You’re) Timeless To Me.

There were so many times throughout that song that everyone was laughing and when I say everyone, I mean the cast included.

Norman Pace and Alex Bourne as Mr and Mrs TurnbladNorman Pace and Alex Bourne as Mr and Mrs Turnblad
Norman Pace and Alex Bourne as Mr and Mrs Turnblad

This is a show that if you get the chance you should definitely go and see as whatever mood you might be in beforehand, and I can guarantee you will leave with a smile on your face and a song or two buzzing through your head.

For me, I’ve been humming You Can’t Stop The Beat non-stop since I left the theatre.

Hairspray is running until the 27th November and tickets are available from the Bristol Hippodrome Website

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