Hairspray is a breath of fresh from the normal Broadway musicals that trudge their way through the British stages. Too often the jukebox musicals have a plot you could write on an extra small fag packet with only a passing interest in their source material. Though this musical never quite lives up to the subtle brilliance of John Water’s original film, it’s an utter joy to watch.

Top billing goes to Tony Maudsley as Edna Turnblad who gives an effortless performance.

Tracy Turnblad is a young girl with dreams of becoming a famous TV dancer. When one of the dancers on the Corny Collins show must leave the Tracy sees her opportunity. Despite Velma Von Tussle’s body shaming shenanigans Tracy's talents shine through and she finds herself on the show. Trouble ensues when she leads a protest to turn the racial segregated show into an integrated one.

The productions real strength comes from a solid script and Marc Shaiman’s 60s’ soul inspired score. It has real heart and tackles the topics of racism and body weight without becoming trite or over sentimental. The ending is schmaltzy and slightly inconsistent with the rest of the show, but I’m sure most people won’t mind that all the character arcs are tied up in a neat little bow.

Some of the jokes failed to land on the night, not because they were bad, but because some cast members delivered them as jokes rather than something their character would earnestly say. It’s a fine line between satire and chewing the scenery and it’s important to get it right with a script laden with quality gags. At the very least they managed to get a usually conservative Edinburgh audience to give around of applause to a few dick jokes – something I’ve often failed to do!

Freya Sutton does a great job of holding the production together; her carefree fun-loving performance is infectious. The character is sweet and earnest without becoming a trite irritating Disney princess.

Top billing goes to Tony Maudsley as Edna Turnblad who gives an effortless performance. Maybe it’s his time spent working with soon to be realised national treasure Andy Hamilton, who truly understand how to construct a good comedy character. Too often this role is played for cheap laughs but Maudsely inhibits the part to the point it’s often easy to forget that there is an actor on stage at all.

Hairspray is a joy to watch and if you don't come out humming with a smile on your face you might need to go home and hold a mirror under your nose to see if you are still breathing.

Reviews by James W. Woe

The New Theatre

The Voice Factor [X]

Smock Alley Theatre, 1662

God Has No Country

Smock Alley Theatre, 1662

The Quare Fellow

Gilded Balloon at the Counting House


Pleasance Dome

Lou Sanders: What's That Lady Doing?

Gilded Balloon Teviot

Colin Hay: Get Rid of the Minstrel




The Blurb

Hairspray is back, with a brand new production of the smash hit musical comedy.

It’s Baltimore, 1962 where Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, is on a mission to follow her dreams and dance her way onto national TV. Tracy’s audition makes her a local star and soon she is using her new-found fame to fight for equality, bagging local heartthrob Link Larkin along the way!

Hairspray is the irresistible feel-good show that is guaranteed to have you dancing the night away. Let your hair down and book now!