Youth Theatre Review: Hairspray Jr

Right from the opening number, Good Morning Baltimore, the audience were with them all the way!

Presented by Adelaide Youth Theatre
Reviewed 10 Oct 2019

Right from the opening number, Good Morning Baltimore, the audience were with them all the way! A bright and bubbly Tracey, played by Erin Sowerby, hit the stage running. Tracey’s mum Edna, Liam Tomlin, is a larger than life character and Tomlin makes it look easy. Tracey’s best friend Penny, Gemma Dandie, joins her in a plan to skip school leading to the great production number Mamma I’m a Big Girl Now. Lauren Pullen is great as Tracey’s archenemy Amber, and with her mother Velma, Chloe Seabrook, they make believable nasties. All this is because of a competition run by the Corny Collins Show. Matthew Monti shows lots of pizzazz as Corny. Encouraged by Tracey’s father Wilbur, Harry Ince, the girls attend the show and Tracey decides to audition despite Amber’s treatment.

When Tracey threatens to steal Amber’s boyfriend Link by being the focus of his serenade It Takes Two, things get frosty. Deon Martino-Williams plays and sings heartthrob Link with all the style of a matinee idol. Likewise, Seaweed, Genesis Holt, the guy from the wrong side of the tracks (and the wrong colour) has some great moves and shows his singing prowess. The girls are fighting to attend the show and this delivers my favourite song, a singing argument, Stop! Don’t! No! Please! They get Edna out of the house and to The Hefty Hideaway run by Mr Pinky, Maddock Mackenzie, who supplies sparking dresses to Edna and Tracey. This includes the great number Welcome to the Sixties!

Erica Obur has a fine voice and uses it well as Motormouth, Seaweed’s mother, who runs the record shop Run and Tell That. Motormouth’s Daughter Inez, played beautifully by Tahlia Benetti, has also been trying to get on the Corny Collins Show so all the mothers and daughters plan to crash the show but end in jail hence the production number (very well handled) The Big Dollhouse. Tracey breaks out and finally wins the contest ousting Amber and the real message of this show is achieved as it declared integrated with the finale You Can’t Stop the Beat.

This was a polished production, worthy of Adelaide Youth Theatre, and a credit to director Michelle Davy, musical director Serena Martino-Williams and choreographer Thomas Phillips. Mark Oakley’s lighting complemented exceptionally good sound by Jamie Mensforth. The production team have stayed true to the intentions of writers Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan who with the help of Marc Shaiman (music & lyrics) and Scott Wittman (lyrics) crafted this show and made it available for youth.

Another AYT production well worth a visit.

Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Twitter: @franeds

Venue: Arts Theatre Angus St
Season: 10-12 Oct 2019
Duration: 80mins
Tickets: Adults $30 Children 12 and Under $20

Bookings: www.trybooking.com

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