Printable CopyHAIRSPRAY JR
Adelaide Youth Theatre
The Arts Theatre
Until 12 Oct 2019

Review by Brian Godfrey

The “Jr” series of musicals are shorter (usually around an hour long) versions of their popular Broadway counterparts and are performed by youngsters for youngsters. Whilst “Hairspray” is a fun show, there is an important message running through the show of integration and acceptance. This reviewer was concerned that while “Hairspray Jr” might very well contain the sense of fun, the message might be glossed over or left out entirely – not so! “Hairspray Jr” is fun, but brings out the message as beautifully and as strongly as the full-length version.

From the first note of the soundtrack and the first beam of light on the Arts Theatre stage, Adelaide Youth Theatre’s production yells “HIT”. Director Michelle Davy played the lead character, Tracey in MBM Productions’ Adelaide amateur premiere a few years back and her obvious passion for the role and the show is clearly evident in her directorial work here. Davy is determined that this production will entertain for the whole hour and have you smiling as you leave the theatre. She has given the whole production an electric, ‘poppy’ swinging Sixties vibe. This is helped along by some wonderful (and pretty good fitting) costumes; very quirky, and sometimes telling, back projections designed by Davy and her husband, Sam; and some wonderfully authentic 60s style choreography by Thomas Phillips (very “Jersey Boys”/”Dream Girls”).

Special mention must be made of the crystal-clear sounds emanating from the theatre thanks to sound operator, Jamie Mensforth. So nice to hear every word spoken and every lyric sung.

Erin Sowerby bounces and bubbles as Tracey and captures our hearts from the very beginning and does not let them go till the end. Looking like a young Marlon Brando (in his “on The Waterfront” years) Deon Martino-Williams highly impresses as Link with his looks, moves, performance and great voice – his rendition of “It Takes Two” is worth the price of admission alone. Girls, trust me, you’ll swoon!

The role of Tracey’s mother, Edna is a hard one; the audience are aware that the actor is male, but must empathise with the character as female – the role is not that of a pantomime dame. Liam Tomlin portrays the role perfectly; we just love Edna. This young man promises to be particularly good in comic roles.

Other impressive performances come from Genisis Holt (Seaweed), Tahlia Binetti (Little Inez) and Lauren Pullen giving a nicely observed ‘nasty’ Amber. Watch out for Erica Obur as Motormouth, her scintillating, soulful voice is to die for and almost stops the show.

The rest of the cast are equally entertaining and fully committed to this production.

Adelaide Youth Theatre usually present good shows, but this is possibly the best one from them that this reviewer has seen. The whole thing holds together and shines without the aid of hairspray.

Note: “Hairspray Jr” has two casts. The cast reviewed perform again Saturday 12 Oct 2019 at 2pm