After falling in love with the Hairspray film when it came out in 2007, when I was offered tickets to go and see it performed in my home town of Nottingham, I practically jumped at the chance!
Performed by the Nottingham Operatic Society, the night was full of foot-tapping, hand-clapping, sing-along fun.
Set in Baltimore in 1962, Tracy Turnblad is following her dreams of dancing on her favourite TV Programme, the Corny Collins show. When the show holds auditions for a new dancer, Tracy and her best friend Penny sneak away from their parents who aren’t too keen on the idea, and she ends up landing her dream of dancing on the show with the ‘nicest kids in town.’
The chubby girl, who is all for segregation and who doesn’t quite ‘fit in,’ quickly becomes the most loved dancer on the show, and is soon the most popular girl with the best looking guy in school on her arm. Tracy is quick to use her new-found status to try and integrate the black and white dancers on the show, but finds herself in jail for the way she goes about it. With a fun filled break-out scene, Tracy wants nothing more than to make her comeback and win the Miss Teen Hairspray title that night.
Although there were a few flat notes and a couple of songs that could have done with a bit more energy, exceptional performances from Edna Turnblad (Dan Armstrong) and her husband, Wilbur (Ian Pottage), bought the audience’s spirits straight back up with some hilarious one liners. Even though it was played by two men, there was still a heartwarming sense of romance and partnership between the two.
Aston Fisher made an excellent Tracy Turnblad, with her obsession with the fabulous Link Larkin (Jacob Sellochan)- who is almost as good as Zac Efron- being hilarious from the start. She gave a performance of the girl that everyone turns into around their high school crush, and she does it really well! Her wide puppy dog eyes and clear shock when he comes to talk to her is a perfect portrayal of a girl in love. Personally, my favourite scene of the whole play was Tracy’s first performance on the Corny Collins show, as Larkin steps up to sing ‘It Takes Two,’ Tracy is first to lead her fellow dancers in what can only be described as a worship around the man she loves.
There are some stunning performances from Lizzy Ives as Amber Von Tussle, the popular girl who can do nothing but stand back and watch as Tracy takes over, and Aadyl Muller who makes an excellent Seaweed, his smooth hips and beautiful voice making you want nothing more than to get up on stage and dance along with him.
Having never heard of the Nottingham Operatic Society until this performance, I will definitely be keeping an eye on them for their upcoming performances. With a few areas of improvement to work on, I think this group are definitely one to watch when it comes to the next big thing in theatre.
By Emma Page