Date 17th March 2015
Society Basingstoke Amateur Operatic Society
Venue Haymarket Theatre, Basingstoke
Type of Production Musical
Director Helen Buick and Assistant Director: Richard Cox
Musical Director Julie Dance
Choreographer Helen Buick


Author: Chris Horton

HAIRSPRAY – The Broadway Musical  is a joy.  Set in 1962 it takes us back to the rise of teen culture.  Our heroine, Tracy Turnblad, longs to join the regulars and pop idol (Link Larkin) on her favourite tv music show but her ample curves don’t fit the bill as far as the show’s producer (and former Miss Baltimore Crabs) Velma Von Tussle is concerned.  Tracy also faces opposition from her mother (Edna) fearing Tracy’s size will lead to rejection but her father encourages her to follow her dream.  Against the odds, Tracy succeeds, appears on the show and becomes a hit.  She then sets her sights on racial integration.  As if that’s not enough, she finds herself in detention because of her hairdo.

The outstanding talent of the cast shone throughout this excellent production. From the high energy opening “Good Morning Baltimore” to the finale “You Can’t Stop The Beat”, the whole show just sparkles.  In Hairspray there is no one “star” as everyone shines in this production. The duo with Wilbur (Ian May-Miller) and Rob Wilson as Edna in “You’re timeless to me” was a particular highlight for me and the audience and was both touching and hilarious.  Siobhan Branch as Tracy produced some magic on the stage and was perfectly cast.  She had great support from the talented, Hazel Baldwin, as her friend Penny Pingleton  who blossoms with the love of a good (black) man: a terrific performance from Curtis Adams as Seaweed J Stubbs.  Natasha Mulvey simply stunned the audience as Motormouth Maybelle with her knockout voice.    Connor McGrane clearly relished his role as the pop idol, Link Larkin,  and Stephanie Webb’s Velma was impressive (channelling her inner Dolly Parton?)  as was Carlie Cohen as Prudy Pingleton.   Ed Branch had a natural, easy presence as Corny Collins and Laura Whitwell was superb as the sweet and at times, nasty, Amber, Tracy’s rival.  Aneesa Coelho brought energy and humour to her role as Little Inez. 

Hairspray is the ultimate feel-good musical.  It deals with some serious issues (body image and racial segregation) but in a fun way.  BAOS should be proud to add Hairspray to their list of huge successes.  It fizzled from start to finish was full of great comedy, vocals and slick choreography and was simply a wonderful way to spend a hugely enjoyable evening.