Tuesday saw the launch event for the brightest, bubbliest, biggest musical around, as the cast of Hairspray arrived at Birmingham’s New Alex Theatre. The show will be this year’s big Christmas musical at the Alex, following on from Jersey Boys and Ghost in 2014 and 13 respectively. I was very lucky to be invited to the launch, where the All star cast performed a series of key songs from the musical, and also hosted a Q&A session with the audience.
Hairspray is the story of Tracy Turnblad, an overweight teenager who becomes a dance sensation in early 1960s Baltimore. She finds love with the teen idol Link, but also gets involved in the burgeoning civil rights movement through the black friends who teach her how to dance. Although the musical is frothy and funny, it has some poignant moments and has a real message about civil liberties and racism that still reasonate in the 21st.
A very special makeshift stage was assembled on the real stage for a group of journalists and bloggers, friends of the theatre and musical professionals as Tony Maudsley (so funny in Benidorm) as Edna Turnblad, Peter Duncan as Wilbur and Brenda Edwards as Motormouth Maybelle took to the stage to perform. Also on stage was the lovely Freya Sutton who is reprising her role as Tracy Turnblad. Stage and television star Claire Sweeney, who is playing the frankly horrible Velma Von Tussle in the show, presented the afternoon’s entertainment, and looked frankly amazing in a beautiful black dress and glittering Louboutins.
We were treated to 3 songs from the cast. Starting with ‘Without Love’, then followed by ‘You’re timeless to me’ performed with wit and charm by Edna and Wilbur. The Q&A session was followed by the moving, spine tingling ‘I know where I’ve been’, performed by Brenda Edwards with such verve and passion you just know this will raise the roof come showtime.
The Q&A session was fun, with cast members revealing their favourite songs, offering advice to youngsters aiming to get on the stage and with Tony Maudsley talking about (and revealing) his spanx, and his issues with high heels. There was also praise for the make-up and wig departments – who it was revealed work almost like a conveyor belt on performance nights, and Claire Sweeney talked about how she juggled motherhood of a one year old boy, with performing on stage every night.
After the show I was lucky enough to chat to Tracy Turnblad aka Freya Sutton, who was looking forward to being in Birmingham at Christmas, and was also impressed with the changes to the city since her last visit.
Hairspray is a must see this Christmas. Add it to your diary now and check out the ticket information below.
Hairspray The Musical
at the New Alexandra Theatre
from Mon 14 Dec 2015 to Sat 2 Jan 2016
Box Office: 0844 871 3011*
Groups: 0844 871 3031
*Booking fees apply