Review: Hairspray (Shaftsbury Theatre)

When Hairspray opened in London, I thought the ticket prices were even more ridiculous than normal, with the producers having imported Broadway prices at the same time as the show. But eventually I relented, and went to see the show last weekend… and thank goodness I did!

Looking back at the show, I find it almost impossible to criticise it… so, rather than trying to right a ‘formal’ review, I’m just going to list out the reasons why the show’s great, and hopefully convince any of you that haven’t seen the show that you should!

A few reasons why it’s great:

  • Leanne Jones is absolutely tremendous in the leading role, and a new star has been discovered. Remarkably less than 2 years ago, she was working in her local branch of Halifax, and at the age of 22, she then won an Olivier award in his first West End performance. Thoroughly well-deserved though, as her performance is brilliant – great voice, and even better comic timing
  • Michael Ball is delightful in the cross-dressing part of Edna, Tracy’s mum… He has just extended his time in the show which can only be good news for people that haven’t seen the show yet. Brilliant
  • Marc Shaiman’s music is fabulous throughout, with plenty of numbers that you’ll be humming after the show. It’s so good that you may well want to get up and dance
  • The design is glittering – one of the most effective designs I have seen on stage for a long time, with set, costumes and lighting all perfectly judged.
  • Jerry Mitchell’s choreography is fabulous, and really helps the show feel like it fits with the time period…


As you can see, this is a long list. There were very few disappointments… it was a shame to discover that Ben James-Ellis (of ‘Any Dream Will Do’ fame) was not performing, but his understudy was an impressive replacement, so it didn’t really matter.

I don’t even remember seeing the reviews back when the show opened, but I just checked to see if they liked the show too – I was comforted to discover that I was alone in liking it. See Benedict Nightingale in The Times and Michael Billington in the Guardian, both of whom gave the shows 4-star reviews.

In case you’re wondering, I think they were a little harsh – I would have definitely given the show 5 stars!

Check out the official website now and book your tickets…


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