Hairspray - Southampton - Mayflower Theatre

~ by Lorelei Reddin for Southern Daily Echo - 13/05/2010 ~

MICHAEL Ball was made to wear high heels, frilly frocks and feathers. Of course, he's a hugely successful actor and singer, who has also carved out a career as a presenter.

But I hope he won't be offended when I say he is the perfect woman.

I can now see why the Mayflower had a raft of interval complaints from first night customers wondering where their hero was.

Ball is unrecognisable in his larger than life Olivier award winning role as Edna Turnblad, who fits him like one of her figure hugging spangly creations.

The utterly convincing Ball has unmistakable chemistry with Les Dennis as comical husband Wilbur, not least when they burst into fits of giggles during the hysterical Timeless to Me sequence.

The pair's daughter Tracy is tranformed from overweight outcast to teen hero by one appearance on dance spectacular The Corny Collins Show.

It's 1962 and change is in the air in Hairspray. Can Tracy Turnblad turn her life around, bag the man of her dreams, scoop a dance contest and overcome racial divides all in one fell swoop? Of course she can.

Laurie Scarth puts in an inspired performance as Tracy, who rarely leaves the stage and never stops moving.

Other stand-out performances in a superb ensemble come from Sandra Marvin, who lives up to her motormouth moniker with some incredible singing, and Emma Dukes who provided plenty of laughs as geeky schoolgirl Penny.

This feelgood musical left last night's capacity audience on their feet and screaming for more. There is barely standing room only for the remainder of the show's three-week run in Southampton. But do what ever you have to to get in. Michael Ball's turn as lady is utterly unmissable.

Hairspray runs until May 29. Box Office 02380 711 811.


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