Hairspray in Oxford, New Theatre

HairsprayI’m writing this blog post a few days after we saw the performance of Hairspray, and when I started putting this piece together, there were two characters f that really jumped back into life and that was Matt Rixon’s Edna and Graham Macduff’s Wilbur Turnblad.

The pair played Tracy Turnblad’s parents, but their chemistry was hilarious, even when the props failed them. They had an old-school hilarity reminiscent of the Palladium shows, Jimmy Tarbuck and Bruce Forsyth.  You could tell that Matt is a panto dame legend.

The plot – ‘Integration not segregation’

If you don’t know the story, Hairspray, set in the early sixties, features Tracy, desperate for fame and to be a regular on the all-singing, all-dancing Corny Collins Show. She’s also got a bit of thing for its star, Link Larkin. This is all set to a backdrop of Baltimore’s segregation both on telly and on the airwaves.

Brenda Edwards plays Motormouth Maybelle, an X Factor alumni, who gave a stonking rendition of I Know Where I’ve Been’, and ‘Big, Blonde and Beautiful’. Whilst new graduate, Annalise Llard-Bailey, was a hilarious BFF to Rosie O’Hare’s Tracy, who has a great voice and played a feisty protagonist.

What’s great about Hairspray is that its feel-good tunes appeal to a wide audience – old and young, boys and girls. And it’s likely that many people in the audience identify with many of the themes in the musical – as the producer, Mike Goucher, says ‘we still experience racism and women are still conscious of body issues. We all need to strive for greater tolerance in every area of life.’

This tour of Hairspray is moving around the UK right through the summer until August. I dare you to leave the theatre not humming ‘Good Morning Baltimore.’


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