Live Review: Hairspray is a camp cut above at Sheffield's Lyceum

It is now exactly thirty years since John Waters' camp comedy Hairspray hit the silver screen.

Tuesday, 30th January 2018, 11:20 am
Updated Tuesday, 30th January 2018, 11:25 am
Hairspray runs at the Lyceum until Saturday.
Hairspray runs at the Lyceum until Saturday.

Back then, the movie on which this best-selling global musical is based, was set just over a quarter of a decade on from its setting in early 1960s America.

For those not in the know, the plot is set against the racial tensions of the time and how the black community wasn't allowed to integrate with the white on television.

In the current climate of rising racial restlessness across the globe, there's no better time than for this all-singing, all-dancing, camp and colourful spectacular to make a return to the Sheffield stage.

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Matt Rixon, Rebecca Mendoza and Norman Pace are all starring in Hairspray.

Running at the Lyceum until Saturday, the opening night proved to be a rip-roaring success from start to finish, a riot of some stunning vocal performances, crisp choreography and some pretty funny comic routines too.

Star of the show is Rebecca Mendoza, who delivered a thoroughly enchanting performance as Tracy Turnblad, a Baltimore schoolgirl intent on becoming a dancer on The Corny Collins Show, a popular teenage TV dance show.

Despite being overweight, Tracy becomes a regular on the show, infuriating the show's reigning queen, Amber Von Tussle, a mean, privileged, beautiful high school classmate whose racist parents, Velma and Franklin Von Tussle are keen to keep black dancers away from the airwaves.

Also stealing Amber's boyfriend, Link Larkin, all the elements for a classic triumph over adversity tale are in place.

The show is a riot of colour and some superb song and dance routines.

Mendoza sparkled throughout, sprinkling the right amount of panto-esque slapstick with some more tender, touching moments - although her vocal chords will surely be shattered trying to keep that American teen drawl going until the end of the run!

Matt Rixon and Norman Pace (yes, the other half of Hale and Pace) delivered some wonderfully scripted and unscripted comic moments as Tracy's parents Edna and Wilbur and Daniel Clift deservedly took a standing ovation after stepping up to take on the role of Link at short notice.

The pace (excuse the pun) was fast and non-stop and although there's 20 songs to get through in a two hour 30 minute show, Paul Kerryson's accomplished direction made sure the evening fairly zipped by with a series of foot-tapping numbers such as You Can't Stop The Beat, Big, Blonde and Beautiful and Welcome To The 60s.

As a relative newcomer to the world of musical theatre, I wasn't sure what to expect and indeed, whether it would be my cup of tea, but some stunning performances from Brenda Edwards (Motormouth Maybelle) Layton Williams (Seaweed) and Annalise Liard Bailey (Penny) made for a throroughly enjoyable, if somewhat kitsch evening.

Matt Rixon, Rebecca Mendoza and Norman Pace are all starring in Hairspray.

Grab your tickets, get yourself a bouffante hairdo and step back into a world of sixties nostalgia that comes with a serious message too.

Hairspray is a sparkling, glittery and camp cut above.

* Hairspray runs at Sheffield's Lyceum Theatre until February 3.

Tickets are available at

The show is a riot of colour and some superb song and dance routines.