REVIEW: Hairspray, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, until January 27.
A powerful message, huge energy, huge heart and endless fun, Hairspray really is the musical that has got the lot '“ particularly as this latest production has also got a simply-dazzling professional debut from the insanely-gifted Rebecca Mendoza.
As Tracy Turnblad, Mendoza’s role is to epitomise the compassion and understanding which drive this whole musical in its plea for everyone’s right to sing and dance together regardless of colour, regardless of shape or size.
And from the show’s opening moments, Mendoza absolutely nails it with a performance rich in charm and huge in skill.
It’s Baltimore, 1962, but Hairspray’s great power has always been – without ever sounding remotely preachy or didactic – to tell us that its lessons apply equally now – and arguably they have never been so important.
But the show’s brilliance is to wrap everything up in a succession of great tracks and fantastic dancing, delivered by a supremely-talented cast, working together with ease and wit and flair.
Layton Williams as Seaweed and Brenda Edwards as Motormouth Maybelle are terrific; so too is Aimee Moore as Amber.
Recent Hairsprays have seemed just a little tired; this latest incarnation gives the show back all the oomph that makes it so special.
The icing on the cake – and how could you not love them? – are the unlikely lovebirds Norman Pace and Matt Rixon as Wilbur and Edna Turnblad respectively. Their little love duet is a blast, especially when they crack each other up – all part of the great Hairspray spirit which sends us home happy.
Absolutely perfect for these dismal dark days of January.