Review: Hairspray, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, until Saturday

The rousing production of Hairspray, on stage at the Theatre Royal, in Bury St Edmunds, with the Irv

The rousing production of Hairspray, on stage at the Theatre Royal, in Bury St Edmunds, with the Irving Stage Company. - Credit: Archant

It’s got colour, glamour, fabulous foot-tapping tunes .. and a plethora of talent.

And it’s all wrapped up in the Irving Stage Company’s production of their latest production.

There are so many stand-out performances on stage right down to the tight knit, crisp sounding 14-piece orchestra out of sight in the pit below. The musicians may not have been visible to the audience, but their sounds contributed vastly to the whole experience of ‘Hairspray’.

A few gremlins and feedback from some of the microphones at the sell out, first night, did not detract from a wonderful evening of entertainment with many in the auditorium having fun and clapping along to the big finale of ‘You Can’t Stop The Beat’ or swaying to the sounds of ‘Mama, I’m A Big Girl Now’ and swaying in their seats to the lilting rhythm of ‘The Madison’.

Set in the “swinging sixties” in Baltimore, Maryland, Hairspray tells the story of Tracy Turnblad’s dream to dance on the Corny Collins Show (a local TV dance show). When she wins a role on the show, she becomes a celebrity overnight and makes a bid to win the Miss Teenage Hairspray competition. The musical also cleverly taps into the racial injustices of parts of American Society in the 1960s.


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Stephen Skrypec is spectacular as Tracy’s much-maligned mother Edna Turnblad and brought back images of Michael Ball who took on the same dame role when the hit musical opened in the West End of London, at the Shaftesbury Theatre, in October 2007.

The Irving’s dame stole the show especially during the duet with her joke shop-challenged husband Wilbur, played by Andy Cunnell, in ‘You’re Timeless To Me’.

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They were tantalisingly on the edge of giggling their way through the song which endeared them even more to the audience and added to the fun.

Others to mention were Brian Carmack, as the enthusiastic over-the-top host Corny Collins; Nicola Platt-Nolan, who gave an impressive performance as the “plus-size”, big-haired Tracy; Mattison Williams, as the black dancer Seaweed J Stubbs, who was cast perfectly for the role; Sally Boulter, as the racist TV producer Velma Von Tussle; Lucy Allen, as her daughter Amber Von Tassle; and Max Cunnell, as heartthrob Link Larkin.

Hairspray continues every night at the Theatre Royal right up until Saturday which has two shows.

Russell Cook

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