Date 31st March 2017
Society CODY Musical Theatre Company
Venue Princes Hall, Aldershot
Type of Production Musical
Director Gary Oxenham
Musical Director Graham Hix
Choreographer Graham McCarron-Wright


Author: Kay Rowan

Hairspray the musical is based on the 1988 film of the same name. “Hairspray” is a rather clever mix of outsiders, civil unrest and discrimination wrapped up with a big glossy, showbiz bow. The songs include 1960s-style dance music and "downtown" rhythm and blues. Set in Baltimore, Maryland in 1962, a plump teenager by the name of Tracy Turnblad has a dream to dance on The Corny Collins Show, a local TV dance program based on the real-life Buddy Deane Show. After Tracy wins a role on the show, she becomes a celebrity overnight, and subsequently meets a colourful array of characters. Hairspray is a social commentary on the injustices of parts of American society in the 1960s.

Visiting CODY is always a pleasure and their warm welcome makes you feel part of the team. The only downside of receiving their super programme is there is never enough time to absorb its contents before the show begins. It always makes good reading the next day and great to see space allocated to sharing the promotion of other societies in the area and indeed the works of NODA.

Considering the demands of this show it was tremendous to see some creative and innovative sets courtesy of their own stage team. A great deal of work had gone in to making the sets manageable and yet functional but with an element of pzazz.. The crew are to be congratulated on both the quality of the scenery and the professional manner in which the scenes were changed. Not an easy show with one scene melding into another – always easy in films. The costumes were very well coordinated and every scene was perfectly styled. Similarly, the make-up followed the trends of the period.  The choreography was superb and set a very high standard both in creativity and execution.

The sound created by the orchestra was super and was very much of the period - however the diction could have been a little clearer in some places. A very good balance of sound was achieved in a show where there are so many principals to cover.

This production had pace and energy throughout and as the story unfolded showed no signs of flagging - the audience focus was kept up throughout. The show was wonderfully and most energetically delivered by an enthusiastic ensemble and a highly talented cast of principals. Laura Cross (Tracy Turnblad) sang the opening ‘Good Morning Baltimore’ with a great deal of feeling. Paul Gibson produced an outstanding interpretation as Edna, Tracy’s Mum - his entire performance was highly amusing without ever going over the top. Liam Healy’s execution of Link Larkin was exceptional with his hip swaying ‘look at me’ style. Kelly Brewer and Alice Walker as Penny and Amber couldn’t have been more different, the first being a brilliant comedy part and the latter an enchanting role which they both captured very well.

The whole cast appeared to be totally immersed in the action and at the end of the show, the buzz of enjoyment and standing ovation from the audience was an indication of the audience’s appreciation. The director and the stage manager are to be highly praised for the adventurous style of presenting this show. The whole team delivered an extremely well-crafted show which resulted in exceptionally high quality entertainment. It was noticeable that all age groups were represented in the theatre and that there was a tremendous buzz amongst audience upon leaving the theatre.

CMTC should be thoroughly proud of this their first-class production of ‘Hairspray’.