The successful Broadway musical HAIRSPRAY — with music by Marc Shaiman, the lyrics of Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, and book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan — came to the Magna Carta Arts Centre this week.
It was presented by The Performance Academy. The dance school that was established more than 35 years ago as the Lynne Davis dance school. In 2001, Lynne’s daughter, Annelly [James] took over the school and it became officially known as “The Performance Academy.” The show was directed by the talented local actor TJ Lloyd with lighting by Andy James, sound by Dave Gates and stage management by Nigel Martin.
The story follows the curvy teenager Tracy Turnblad’s dream to dance on The Corny Collins Show, and is based on the true history of the “Buddy Deane Show” broadcast by WJZ-TV Baltimore, and taken off-air mid-season due to problems relating to integrating black and white dancers. The theatrical show addresses issues of size and racism, as well as focusing on the love-life of adolescents and living in the big city in the 1960s.
Liezel Abrahams played the upbeat, pollyannaish principal female Tracey with style and gusto. The drag-role of mother Edna was played by George Hedges in the show we saw, and we thought George perfectly captured the part’s self-effacing and diffident nature. Callum Reynolds as the optimistic joke-store Dad/Husband was also noteworthy.
With an ensemble of more than forty talented showsters, often all on stage at the same time, this presentation was a hugely exciting event from start to finish. The cast handled the numbers with aplomb, style and spirit.
Villainess Velma (played by Neve Crossley) and daughter Amber (played by the Cilla-esque Fay Etson on Thursday) had some of the most ambitious songs to perform … but they pulled them off successfully. Aaron Hutton — wearing his Dad’s drapes & drainpipes as Corny Collins and Daniel Hann (Link Larkin) played the dapper male heart-throbs.
Worthy of special mention were: the the mega-talented and much-in-demand Helen Roper (who played by Penny Pingleton in the show we saw on Thursday with dynamic and zippy energy.) We were also captivated by the prepossessing Kola-Olukotan girls: Aliyyah (Motormouth) Ameerah (a member of the singing group “The Dynamites” alongside Leah Warmington and Katerina Saragoudas) and little dancer Aishah (ensemble).
The show was full of impressive drama, extravagant costumes, enthusiastic dances and sincere vocal performances.
The Magna Carta Hairspray Show was exhilarating from start to finish with enthusiastic support from all … and let’s not forget: You can’t stop the beat once it starts!
Tickets are still available for Hairspray The Broadway Musical at the Magna Carta Arts Centre Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd February (inc matinée on Sat.)