Mathilda Deacy reviews an energetic and entertaining production of Hairspray, by GMTG and the Gospel Choir.
If you were lucky enough to get a ticket for the extremely popular GMTG and Gospel Choir production of ‘Hairspray’, you were met from the first beat with an array of colour and fun. ‘Hairspray’, set in 1962 Baltimore, tells the story of “hefty” high schooler Tracy Turnblad, who fulfills her dream of dancing on “The Corny Collins Show” only to use the opportunity to promote racial integration, refusing to dance without her friends Seaweed and Little Inez. The Broadway production has won eight Tony awards leaving the cast with a tough act to follow, but they did an amazing job of transporting the beloved Broadway and Hollywood hit into our very own Guild of Student’s Deb Hall.
GMTG and Gospel Choir put on five nights of 60s excitement with passion and enthusiasm, taking us back in time with stunning, authentic costumes and colourful fabulous sets. The vivid colours and bright lights were mesmerizing. I was hooked from the start, with the rendition of “Good Morning Baltimore” from Phoebe Reynolds, who did an amazing job in leading the performance as Tracy. That was the first of many undeniably catchy tunes which had the audience singing and dancing along, creating an incredible atmosphere. It was such a fun and immersive experience with an overwhelming amount of talent on stage. The Motormouth Kids were all exceptional, effortlessly performing fantastic choreography by Sea Davis and Charley Lampitt. Iain Alexander gave an extremely charismatic and cheerful performance as the much-loved Corny Collins, leading the well-timed and upbeat “Nicest Kids in Town”.
Tamoy Phipps’ rendition of “I Know Where I’ve Been” was beautiful, leaving many audience members with tears in their eyes with her flawless and moving vocals. More poignant moments like this amidst all the humour and dancing lent depth to Hairspray’s more serious significance, a positive message of progress and acceptance which was portrayed with the perfect balance of gravity and glee. The first half had flown by and we could hardly wait for it all to begin again.
The laughter and fun did not cease in Act II, opening with all of the women locked up in “The Big Doll House”. The performance of “Without Love” was hilarious and added to the romantic nature of the musical. The production ran smoothly with seamless set transitions and faultless dance numbers. The large cast ultimately came together to dance to “You Can’t Stop the Beat”, which was impressively tight in light of the huge group. The song was so uplifting and inspiring that it put us all in good spirits.
Watching this production was one of my favourite experiences at UoB so far, and after being so enthralled by the work of the Guild Musical Theatre Group and Gospel Choir, I will be certainly be looking out for upcoming shows, and would encourage you all to do the same! Many congratulations to the directors Abigail Gibbs and Stephanie Lindo who successfully delivered the timeless hit and had us all tapping our toes and leaving with a smile.