Hairspray is a feel-good musical with a lot of heart, and the production at Kilworth House Theatre is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.

The set design, by Paul Farnsworth, for this open-air marquee theatre is stunning, with stylish pastels everywhere, retro signage, and cool polka dot-esque dividers that transition us through the daydreamy Baltimore of 1962. Chris Whybrow’s sound design is full and rich from the first number, and certainly impressive considering the band is hidden in a tent somewhere behind the marquee! The lighting design by Jason Taylor is subtle to work with the vibrancy of the set and costume while enhancing the mood of each number. It all looks beautiful.

Charlotte-Hannah Jones as Tracy Turnblad is sweet and endearing, with a wonderful powerhouse belt that makes easy work of the well-known score. She comes across as very genuine, a little naive, but full of heart as she should be. 

The cast is fabulous and each one gets an opportunity to shine brightly and show off just how talented they all are, but standout performances come from Jenny Gayner as Velma Von Tussle and Nay-Nay as Seaweed J Stubbs. Both of their solo numbers feel fresh and exciting, and are sung with so much power and feeling, which induces goosebumps!

This should be a five-star review, and certainly, the cast deserves it. But unfortunately, some shocking and disappointing ableist language that just can’t be excused in 2023, prevents this. Words like sp*stic and ret*rd haven’t been acceptable for a very long time, and there were gasps of disgust from the audience when the characters said those lines. In a show about equality, it is simply wrong to have jokes that punch down at another marginalised group. The lines don’t land with the audience and add nothing to the story, instead, they just take away from its message. 

All in all, this is a stellar piece of West End-quality theatre and a beautiful interpretation of a much-loved show. With plenty to make you laugh, cry, and cheer, this is a production that certainly shouldn’t be missed.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Hairspray runs at the Kilworth House Theatre until the 6th of August – find tickets and more info here!

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

2 Star Review 3 Star Review 4 Star Review 5 Star Review 2022 2023 Adaptation Almeida Cabaret Camden Fringe Cast Announcement Christmas Comedy Dance Drag Edinburgh Fringe Edinburgh Fringe Interviews Fringe Immersive Interviews Jukebox Musical LGBTQIA+ Lyric Hammersmith Manchester Musical New Musical News New Wimbledon Theatre North West Off West End Park Theatre Play Review Revival Richmond Theatre Round Up Royal Court Theatre Shakespeare Show Announcement Show Recommendations Soho Theatre Southwark Playhouse Touring Production VAULT Festival West End

    The title of this winner of Theatre 503’s 2023 International Playwriting Award by Roxy Cook may seem like the set-up to a joke, but the narrative that unspools is instead an affectionate, gently barbed and at base quite sobering portrait of three ordinary souls (and one restless feline) adrift in modern Moscow. There is much affable, satirical back-and-forth commentary on the accepted myths & stereotypes of the Russian spirit & soul. Beset by the indignities of age, opportunism, graft, fatigue, the characters orbit one another, doomed to play out their roles in an unjust, predatory and saturnine universe. The play opens … More A WOMAN WALKS INTO A BANK – REVIEW – THEATRE503
    Peter Pan Goes Wrong first premiered in London at the Pleasance Theatre in 2013, and earlier this year the show made its Broadway debut. Now the production is back in the West End for the Christmas season. Following on from The Play That Goes Wrong, in this production, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is staged by the fictitious Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society and goes awry, disastrously so. The meta-comedy is filled with slapstick comedy, sometimes the humour may be predictable and silly, but it’s universally funny throughout – there is something for everyone here, and the laughs come thick and fast … More PETER PAN GOES WRONG – REVIEW – LYRIC THEATRE
    Drawing heavily from the classic canon of the British supernatural, High Tide’s trio of contemporary Gothic narratives uses traditional storytelling formats to address contemporary themes. Directed by Elayce Ismail, reverent musical interludes accompany tales of apparitions and nighttime conjurings that speak of women from the East of England. Unfortunately, the effect is less chilling and more lightweight, with conventional structures, predictable plot twists and an over-reliance on external forces to drive narrative shoring up some of the less relatable aspects of the genre. Nicola Werenowska’s The Beach House, perhaps the cleanest of the three tales, tells of a mother and … More GHOST STORIES BY CANDLELIGHT – REVIEW – SAM WANAMAKER PLAYHOUSE
    Drum roll please…(Cue a literal drum rolling across the stage.) The Lyric pantomime is one of traditions with the return of many well-loved jokes and skits. Costumes and sets are all made at the Lyric itself by Good Teeth, with set pieces being reused year on year. This year Cinderella gets the Hammersmith makeover, with some success. The costuming is fun and vibrant, with the ugly stepsisters’ equine pyjamas and hoop-skirted ball gowns giving all the wrong kinds of extra you need for those characters. Cinderella’s on stage dress transformation is magical and really well-timed. The Dame, Lady Jelly-Bottom’s, outfits … More CINDERELLA – REVIEW – LYRIC HAMMERSMITH
    Amy catches up with Linus Karp ahead of his performance of Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story, at London’s Clapham Grand. Linus and Joseph of Awkward Productions are also the masterminds behind the new show Gwyneth Goes Skiing. Hello Your Majesty/ Candle Entrepreneur, how are you feeling coming back from a hugely successful fringe and triumphant tour across your kingdom, ahead of performing in front of 700 of your loyal subjects, and before (the list never ends!) opening a brand new show, which has recently gone viral? Exhausted, exhilarated and alive. We’ve had the most ridiculous year – I feel … More INTERVIEW – LINUS KARP – DIANA: THE UNTOLD AND UNTRUE STORY


Leave a Reply