Presented by Matt Byrne Media
Reviewed Thursday 5th July 2012
The Hairspray cast are the nicest kids in town with Matt Byrne Media's vibrant SA premiere getting its Madison on with a cast of sixty, and more colour than a box of crayons.
Other than some dodgy sound levels, which can only improve as the season progresses, there's nothing to dislike about this feel-good musical adaptation of John Waters' 1988 film. The book is by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Mehan, with music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by both Shaiman and Scott Whittman.
The story follows overweight Tracy Turnblad whose fantasy to dance on TV's fictional Corny Collins Show leads her to fight for an end to segregation in 1960s Baltimore.
Matt Byrne's dream cast is led by Michelle Davy as Tracy. She rules the stage with a big heart, big hair and an even bigger voice.
Since the original film, where the late drag queen Divine played Tracy's mother Edna Turnblad, the character has been played by a man in drag. David Gauci, having understudied the part in the touring Australian production, takes on the maternal role with aplomb, offering a heart-warming blend of comedy and pathos.
Studly TV star Link Larkin is ideally suited to Brady Lloyd, who adds a lot more comedy to the part than expected, while Kat Sachse steals her every scene as Tracy's geeky best friend Penny.
It's difficult to believe that Igor Egiraneza is a newcomer to the stage, showing he can sing, dance and act with the best of them as fellow student Seaweed. Likewise Dee Kalei is a pint sized powerhouse as Little Inez. While their roles are specifically black characters in this show, they both showcase the talent out there in our migrant communities. Here's hoping this is the start of more frequent colour-blind casting on our stages.
Joshua Penley as Corny Collins, Shelley Crooks as Velma, Danae Lloyd as Amber, Lisa Simonetti as Motormouth Maybelle and Brendan Cooney as Tracy's dad Wilbur are all magnificent, as is the talented ensemble.
While Matt Byrnes keeps the pace rocketing along, Sue Pole's excellent choreography is a star in its own right, and Rodney Hrvatin musical direction is just as good as always. His orchestra provides a full sound to accompany the catchy tunes.
David Gauci's set design is both clever and effective, offering a number of small surprises along they way. The team of Sue Winston, Anne Humphries, Jo Allenby and Heidi Abbey have put together an awesome array of colourful costumes that are the icing on this delectable cake.
Hairspray's ongoing popularity is no doubt due to a combination of the music, story and characters, but it’s the feel-good nature of the show that lingers with a smile long after the curtain comes down. This is one has it all.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis, Performing Arts Critic, Glam Adelaide.
Venue 1: The Arts Theatre, 53 Angas Street, Adelaide
Season: 5-14 July
Venue 2: Shedley Theatre, Elizabeth
Season: 19-28 July