After watching Hairspray, I’m still humming ‘Welcome to the Sixties’

I SHOULD probably issue a disclaimer here stating that spending the summer in Aberystwyth has slightly skewed my perspective of what actually qualifies as an exciting event.  So, I’m not sure if the fact I was bouncing around my flat for a good few days at the thought of going to see Hairspray at Aberystwyth Arts Centre, or that I’m still humming ‘Welcome to the Sixties’, is testament to the quality of the production or just how very little else is going on in my life.

I also ought to point out that Hairspray is being shown in the relatively small theatre at the back of the Arts Centre, and legroom isn’t exactly given out by the bucketload. Don’t worry about that too much though, as you’ll totally forget that there was ever any feeling in the lower half of your body once the stage is lit; the staging is very cleverly done and I kept ‘oohing’ at- well, everything.

Jenny O’Leary plays Tracy Turnblad to near perfection, and the opening ‘Good Morning Baltimore’ was just as rousing as I had hoped. The rest of the cast are consistently strong and their voices do justice to every song. Having been slightly enthralled by Zac Efron’s Link Larkin (go ahead and judge me all you like) in the 2007 film version of Hairspray, I wasn’t quite captivated by Oliver Ormson as a teen heartthrob, although his voice and comedic talent are certainly worth a mention. Those fans of Balamory reading this should be excited to learn that Andrew Agnew, none other than PC Plum on the aforementioned show, portrays Edna Turnblad and, in doing so, provides brilliant comic relief. Other notable mentions are Samantha Giffard’s portrayal of Penny Pingleton, Tracy’s best friend, which was faultless – if anything it was just a shame that she couldn’t show off her astounding voice in more of the show.  The Dynamites, featuring Treyc Cohen of 2010 X Factor fame, were brilliant in every single performance.

[pullshow]The first act was done before I knew it, and just when the pace was threatening to slow down in the beginning of the second act,  a rendition of ‘I Know Where I’ve Been’ by Marion Campbell as Motormouth Maybelle completely blew off the cobwebs. [pullthis]I think I’d be doing Campbell a disservice if I even tried to explain how convincing and moving the number was.[/pullthis] All I can say is to go and find out for yourselves.

Of course, the size of the stage (and the budget) mean a relatively small show such as this is never going to be up to West End or cinematic quality throughout – I was really disappointed by the omission of ‘The New Girl in Town’, and a few slip-ups contributed to the feeling that the entire production wasn’t quite polished, although this could be attributed to the fact I saw one of the earlier performances of the summer run.

Hairspray at Aberystwyth Arts Centre runs until September 1st.  Ticket prices aren’t exactly student-friendly with the student rates for evening shows being around the cost of a night out at £23, and £22 for matinees. Still, group discounts are available and, let’s face it, this is about the only thing happening in Aber this summer. What’s more, the only hangover you’ll have is the headache of deciding if it’s acceptable to wander about Aberystwyth in 60s dress, serenading everything.