REVIEW: Hairspray, Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle, Until April 18

BIG FUN ... The West End Operatic Society is performing Hairspray at the Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle.

BIG FUN ... The West End Operatic Society is performing Hairspray at the Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle.

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BIG is definitely beautiful in this musical show.

Hairspray, by Newcastle-based West End Operatic Society, is fun, feisty and fabulous.

It follows larger-than-life Tracy Turnblad (Aniella Lucia), who dreams of dancing on her favourite TV programme, The Corny Collins Show.

She’s madly in love with dancer Link Larkin (Jamie Howse) and despite the reservations of her mother Edna (Andrew Fearon), Tracy skips school along with best friend Penny Pingleton (Ellen Lilley) to audition for the show.

Prissy Amber Von Tussle (Hannah Elliott) and her mother, station manager Velma (Leanne Harrison), send poor plus-size Tracy packing but after persisting in her cause, she lands a part on the programme.

She soon sets about ending racial segregation by trying to include her new black friend, Seaweed Stubbs (Quentin Whitaker) in the show.

The West End Operatic Society really has done a spectacular job with this show.

The West End Operatic Society really has done a spectacular job with this show.

It may not have the production values of a professional show but the set is fantastic. It’s big, bold, colourful and used wonderfully to transport the audience to various locations.

An unscripted but hilarious scene unfolded during a dodgeball sequence when Link lost grip of the ball and it rolled off the stage, landing on one of the live musicians.

To the actors’ credit, they continued the scene with an imaginary ball that still managed to knock Tracy off her feet.

The hilarity continued as Link helped Tracy up, almost leaving her wig behind on the floor.

Lucia recovered from the mishap remarkably by cracking a cheeky joke.

There were some issues with sound and at times, it was a struggle to hear what the actors were singing and saying. It was a real shame, but there were bound to be a few opening night hiccups.

Fearon fitted wonderfully into the role of loving but shy Edna, and played fantastically opposite on-stage husband Wilbur (Paul Outterside). The pair’s rendition of (You’re) Timeless To Me was funny and touching.

Howse was suitably suave as Link and his performance of It Takes Two had more than just Tracy swooning.

Lilley also gave a great performance and got lots of laughs as dopey Penny.

But the show very much belonged to Lucia. Her big voice and big personality really shone as she took on numbers like Good Morning Baltimore, I Can Hear The Bells and You Can’t Stop The Beat.

Each cast member did a great job, the live band played wonderfully and the choreography was sharp and cool.

It’s a fabulous and fun production of the show with big hair and a big heart.

Hairspray runs at the Tyne Theatre & Opera House until Saturday, April 18. Click here to book tickets.

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