Is not much, actually.
So, once in a blue moon, my little (fairly average sized….)((maybe even biggish)) hometown of Ipswich gets a good, well known touring cast show at their theatre home, The Regent.
Walking to work everyday, I walk past the venue and have known for quite some time that Hairspray would be coming for a weeks stay. Being the theatre lover I am, I naturally wanted to see it, only….as the time got closer, and my working hours went up more and more in preparation for Black Friday sales and Christmas….. I didn’t book any tickets because in all honesty, I didn’t think I would get to a show. Oh….and because I’m a bit crap at things like booking in advance and like to leave things to chance.
So on Tuesday…. an unexpected and very generous offer came up. I won’t go into details as I wouldn’t want everyone to jump on the bandwagon……but I will say a huge from the bottom of my heart thank you to Jenny (hair and wigs) at Hairspray the UK tour. Because of you, me and my littles got to enjoy a very rare and fun night out.
I was definitely willing the hours to go quickly at work so I could pick my littles up and get to my second home. My second home being – theatre…any and all. Obviously.
People who have read this blog before or those who know me ….will know that if I could, I would take my littles to any show I can afford. The only problem with that is getting to London is an expensive trip for just me alone, let alone them, then when you add theatre tickets on top it is just too much, so needless to say they haven’t seen any shows in London yet. When an opportunity to go to a high quality show such as Hairspray in your own hometown comes along with no travel expenses….you grab it by the balls. It’s been a very ball filled week actually. Lots of grabbing of balls. That’s another story obviously……
My children may be smarter, prettier and cooler than me ….but they did pick one thing up from their Mother. The love of a good show. They were more excited than a couple of kids on Christmas Eve as we lined up to get our programmes. Two for a fiver is a bit of a bargain, and two kids…. love a good bit of Maths sometimes. That is about as much as I can do with the old Maths though, yet another thing I’m crap at.
I should probably point out before I get on to the show that when Leona was just 2 years old, she knew every single word to Hairspray the film. And I’m not just talking songs. I’m talking every single word. So much so, that when we went on holiday and we couldn’t watch the DVD every single day, twice a day…..she made her own entertainment by re-enacting every scene and song by herself. But as any parent will know, kids are quite quick to grow out of things and now she is at the grand old age of 9….she has only seen the film once or twice in the last few years. The same goes for her brother. They knew the film, but it definitely wasn’t fresh in their minds.
You actually would be hard pushed to find a better moment than seeing the joy on those kids faces every time the announcer man said “Ladies and gentleman, this evenings performance will be starting in five minutes…..” and so on. They were literally counting every second. Leona was also reading her programme thoroughly being the book worm she is, and was informing me of every single play and role every cast member had ever been in!!
From the moment the curtains pulled back and Freya Sutton started singing as Tracy Turnblad , me and the littles were hooked. Right from the start, Freya had us laughing. In just the first song…. Good Morning Baltimore – she injected warmth and character into the role of Tracy. It’s not often you get to love a character in a show in the opening number, but this was definitely the case in this show.
Right from the off, the whole production was vibrant, warm and happy. Leona was absolutely loving all the dresses and hairstyles. Lex thought that the ensemble dancers and back flippers were the best thing he had ever seen.
Hairspray of course, wouldn’t be Hairspray without a particular character. Edna Turnblad. Edna is played by the wonderful and hilarious Tony Maudsley. He had everyone in stitches and definitely got one of the biggest cheers of the night along with his on stage hubby Wilbur Turnblad played by the equally funny and charming Peter Duncan.
The Nicest Kids In Town started up with Jon Tsouras playing Corny Collins and everyone in their seats were jiggling and toe bopping. I mean…. I have a tendency to go to a show all on my own and sit there bopping, so I certainly wasn’t going to stay still for this one.
One of my favourite songs for many reasons was definitely “Mama, I’m A Big Girl Now” …… If you have seen the film version of Hairspray then you will know that this song is only featured on the end credits. Why? I have no idea. No idea at all. Not only was it one of my favourites , it was by miles Leonas favourite song.
Tracy and Edna, Penny (Monique Young) and her Mum. and Amber Von Tussle (Lauren Stroud) and her Mum Velma Von Tussle played by the actually very talented Claire Sweeney (Seriously guys, she was proper funny as Velma…. I really didn’t take to Velma in the film but loved her in the stage show) …. all take to the stage begging their Mums to treat them like big girls. Self explanatory really. But for me, as a Mum to a nine year old going on sixteen year old little drama queen….the song really resonated. And Leona thought the song was perfect. Absolutely perfect. She told me that whenever she wants to do something from now on, she’s just going to sing that song to me. Good luck little one….still no chance!!!
If I were to sit here and mention everyone in the cast who we thought were brilliant….then I would be listing the whole cast. They were all incredible. But I do want to say how much Leona loved Lauren Stroud as Amber. Just like Velma, you weren’t really supposed to like her but did anyway because she was brilliant. And not only that….Leona screeched excitedly when she realised that Lauren had understudied for Glinda in Wicked (See, I told you she had read the programme from front to back….) so it was no wonder that of everyone on that stage, Lauren was definitely Leonas favourite. As the girl actually wants to be Glinda when she grows up….it was always going to be the case. Seriously……
“Leona, what do you want to do when you grow up?”
“I want to be Glinda in Wicked”
“Ah….so you want to be an actress.”
“No….I want to be Glinda.”
It doesn’t take a genius to work out who Lex’s favourite was. Step forward Link Larkin….played by the not so shabby to look at Ashley Gilmour. Listen people, I’m not going to lie….. I’m definitely a fan of Zac Efron who plays Link in the film….so I was probably going to be critical of anyone in the role. But I can say without a doubt that Ashley beat Zac. For talent and singing. For charm and comedy timing. He was brilliant. And that my friends, is high praise indeed.
Also, my seven year old little lad has taken a liking to a pinky/red coloured suit that Link wore and has asked for one for Christmas. Righto….that won’t be hard at all. At all…………
The cast ploughed through brilliant song after brilliant song, and by the time Welcome To The 60’s came on, my grin was glued to my face. Couldn’t have stopped smiling if I had tried Seeing the kids faces light up with each new song and twist in the tale was priceless.
And let’s not forget the actual story they are telling. Back then a different era, an era that my kids thankfully have never known. A time where black people couldn’t dance with white people. So not only is the show fun and lively, it holds a strong and powerful message. Basically, Tracy taught my littles that if you want to change the world….well….you can.
Dex Lee played Seaweed, and Brenda Edwards played Motormouth Maybelle. Making up this sweet family was Karis Jack as Little Inez. What a talented little bunch these guys were. I’m sure I don’t even need to state this….but Brenda has some bloody awesome pipes on her!! When the show takes a more serious and perhaps ‘grown up’ with the issue involved route, and Motormouth Maybelle starts singing I Know Where I’ve Been…. it was incredible. The whole theatre pretty much didn’t breathe throughout the whole song. Brenda put us in a trance. Her voice was magnificent and those end notes….wow. My littles looked up at me as they clapped and all they said was …. “Wow.” I know littles, I know. Goosebump central. Of course, for Leona and Lex, living in a world like that is alien to them. They had many questions after the show. Why were times like that? Why would anyone be singled out for the colour of their skin? Why couldn’t they dance together? Questions that obviously, I don’t have the answers to myself. There was no why back then, just madness and racism.
My other favourite song in the show apart from Mama I’m A Big Girl Now was Without Love. It was always my favourite song in the film because it has lines like “Tracy I’m in love with you no matter what you weigh” …. It’s just a brilliant and cleverly written song. It didn’t disappoint.
When “You Can’t Stop The Beat” started up, Leona who had memorised the song list looked at me in horror.
“Oh no…. Mum….it’s the last song. Oh no!!”
That is exactly what I felt too. We didn’t want it to end. Ever. I could watch the show again and again. And isn’t it funny how one little sentence can change a kids whole life? I know it sounds dramatic …..but seriously…… listen to this…..
At the end of the You Can’t Stop The Beat…. Freya Sutton whose energy and talent never slowed down once as Tracy Turnblad looked at the crowd and said something like….. “Come on Ipswich, get up and dance!” ….. Those words will stick forever in the kids mind. I’m being serious. They jumped up and down excitedly…… screamed at me going “Oh my god Mum, she knows us, she said Ipswich….. we are Ipswich….. Oh my God!!!!! I can’t wait to tell my friends….they will never believe it!”
I know I said I wasn’t going to mention the whole cast even though I nearly have…lol…..but I do need to give two shout outs to two of the ensemble. First of all Adam Price as Mr Pinky…. he had my son in stitches, proper laughing out loud. So a winner in my book.
And the second, who I couldn’t take my eyes off….. Layton Williams. I’m a pretty huge fan of Bad Education because it’s hilarious…. and Layton plays Stephen for any of you Bad Ed fans. But never mind that…because he is one of the best dancers I have ever seen. He was very bendy Yes, bendy. Loved seeing him on stage, he had so much energy.
I proper enjoyed myself, but most of all…..the UK tour cast of Hairspray gave my kids a night they are always going to remember. They were singing the songs as they fell asleep, and they were singing the songs as soon as they woke up this morning. It really was an incredible night and I urge anyone to go and see it if it is paying your hometown a visit.
So…..the only thing better than Hairspray is…….not really anything that can beat it right now at this moment. Maybe Hugh Jackman. Maybe Hugh Jackman making me breakfast in bed. But ….other than that…..not much. Thanks all!!!
I do have another blog coming up later with some beauty faves. I’ve had it in my draft box for a while now because I keep adding favourites to the list being the cosmetics junkie I am, but I will get around to posting it!!