REVIEW: Hairspray – Shaftesbury Theatre, London

For my previous Hairspray reviews, please click HERE and scroll through.

Last night, I went back to the Shaftesbury theatre to watch Hairspray (for what I think is the 7th time!).


Since my last review, there have been a few cast changes and so I thought that this would be a perfect opportunity to update my thoughts on this truly fantastic production.

Fairly new comers to the production include Nigel Planner (as Wilbur) and Verity Rushworth (as Penny). When some of the principal cast changes occur on 27th July 2009, the West End production will also have Brian Conley as Edna, newcomer Chloe Hart as Tracy and Wicked‘s Liam Tamne as the ever-cute Link Larkin.

Liam Tamne
Liam Tamne

This was also my first showing with Liz Robertson as Velma and Zoe Rainey as Amber (both of whom I really enjoyed watching!).

Last night, we had Adam Price as our leading lady once again, and, as I commented in one of my previous reviews, I thought he was marvellous in the role! (I loved seeing Michael Ball in the role last year (and still love his Edna!), but think that the novelty of Michael Ball in a dress wears off quite quickly after the first show, after which you’re left with the actor and deciding which style you prefer).

We were very lucky that Leanne Jones (Tracy Turnblad) arrived just in the nick of time to be on for our performance (as I believe that she’s recently been absent due to illness), and I managed to get a great seat to be able to perv… I mean WATCH… Ben James-Ellis as Link πŸ™‚

Nigel Planner is an interesting addition to the cast… perhaps seen as a safe pair of hands due to his history in successful West End shows (recently seen in We Will Rock You and Wicked). I missed Ian Talbot’s Wilbur if I’m being completely honest. I thought that Planner just didn’t look right in the role, and didn’t seem to be having much fun with it. I hope that this changes the longer that Planner stays with the production.

As always, Penny (Verity Rushworth) proved to be my favourite character, shortly followed by Female Authority (Wendy Somerville), however there were really strong performances all round in my opinion. The Ensemble were all great and I found that I noticed and followed them a lot more this time round.

Vocal performance of the night has to go to Sandra Marvin as Motormouth Maybelle… I had hairs standing up all over the place during ‘I Know Where I’ve Been’ PHENOMENAL!

It was great to see that some of the cast have now started to be adventurous with some of the vocal parts as well (not that they weren’t perfect anyway!); however sometimes a little deviation in deliverance does give the song that extra ‘kick’ that comes with live music,Β  and, in my humble opinion, also helped to differentiate the role from the previous actor’s portrayal of the character (perhaps not a big consideration for those lucky ones who are able to detach from the need to visit Hairspray much more than I seem to be able to hehe!).

We were lucky to get a really good audience last night and that really helped to add to the atmosphere of the whole event… towards the end it was simply electric!

Adam Price as Edna Turnblad
Adam Price as Edna Turnblad

I have since decided that I really need to see Brian Conley and Adam Price headlining (Price is also Wilbur in Planner’s absence) as that would be one West End double act that I can’t wait to see! Having seen Price as Edna a few times now, I’d love to see how his Wilbur looks and whether he can resist the urge to crack open the feather dresses and the sparkles! I shall go investigate on your behalf dear readers… and I’ll update with all the goss! πŸ˜‰

If you’ve not already been to see Hairspray, you really do have to! It is the most infectious, uplifting and energetic production that the West End has seen in a very long time!

Remember, if you want to see the original West End three (Edna, Tracy and Link), you need to have been to see the show by Saturday 25th July 2009!

Personally, I’ll miss seeing these three cast members in the show, however I’m really looking forward to the introduction of the new cast members and seeing what they do with the role (and whether Brian Conley can actually pull it off… I have my reservations!).

Given my penchant for visiting this production, I’m sure that yet another Hairspray review is soon to come… πŸ˜‰

For my previous Hairspray reviews, please click HERE and scroll through.

About Gari

Northern lad; living out in the Peak District and rediscovering life after having had a brain tumour.

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