Fun from start to finish at Hairspray

  • Arts
  • Wednesday, 18 Sep 2013

She ain't heavy, she's a super star: Tracy Turnblad becomes an overnight sensation after appearing in The Corny Collins Show in 'Hairspray The Broadway Musical'. -- THE STAR / Izzrafiq Alias

Big girls don’t cry, they dance in this feel-good musical.

Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre’s Plenary Hall was transported back to the 1960s on Tuesday night when Tracy Turnblad, with her beehive do, shook and shimmied her way into the hearts of the audience at the opening night of Hairspray The Broadway Musical.

Featuring feet-tapping songs such as The Nicest Kids In Town, It Takes Two, Welcome To The ‘60s and the show-stopping You Can’t Stop The Beat, the musical was entertaining from start to finish.

Hairspray is set in 1962 Baltimore in the United States, a place and time where racial segregation is rife. Tracy Turnblad is your normal teenager – she loves fashion and watching TV, especially the local teenage dance programme, The Corny Collins Show.

All she wants is to appear on the show but she has been told that she’s, well, too big – her girth as well as her hair – for TV. However, when she was spotted by host Corny Collins dancing a provocative new move (Peyton Place After Midnight), Tracy is offered a spot on the show.

She becomes an overnight sensation and then uses her new-found fame to end racial segregation, on TV at least, so that her black friends can dance on The Corny Collins Show which only features white teens.

Seaweed (second from left) shows Tracy (far right) the dance move to Peyton Place After Midnight. — THE STAR/Glenn Guan

Actress Katharine Moraz is a delight as Tracy, the big girl with big hair with a bigger passion for dancing. It can’t be easy singing and dancing for Moraz who appears in most of the scenes in the musical. But she nailed it. (My only contention with this version of Tracy is that her hair was not big enough. Did our humid weather deflate Tracy’s do?)

A round of applause to the supporting cast who stayed solid throughout the show. And considering the company was assembled and rehearsed for not more than two months, the actors’ dedication have paid off.

It goes without saying that Damian Williams commanded the stage with his booming voice as Tracy’s mum Edna. Meanwhile, Bronte Barbe stole the spotlight every time she was on stage as Tracy’s best friend – the God-fearing but rebellious Penny Pingleton.

However, it was Irene Myrtle Forrester who showcased the best vocals of the night singing the cheeky number Big, Blonde And Beautiful as well as the stirring ballad I Know Where I’ve Been.

It is easy to see why Hairspray, when opened in 2002 on Broadway, won a Tony award for Best Musical (it also won Best Musical at Britain’s Laurence Olivier Awards when it started its run in 2008).

It’s a feel-good show with colourful costumes, fancy dance moves and music that is easy on the ears.

And you just can’t beat a winning formula like that.

The mean Amber Von Tussle (centre) dedicates a song – Cooties – to her arch nemesis Tracy. — THE STAR/Glenn Guan

>> Read our complete review of Hairspray The Broadway Musical in Star2 tomorrow. Hairspray is staged at the Plenary Hall, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre until Sept 22. It is presented by Yvents! with The Star as the media partner and HSBC as the official credit card. HSBC credit card holders enjoy exclusive discounts on tickets. Tickets are priced at RM190, RM290, RM390, RM490 and RM590 (excluding a RM3 ticketing fee) and available from TicketsPeople. Call 03-2287 2727 or visit for details.

Related stories:

More than hair in Hairspray

Positively uplifting playing Tracy Turnblad

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