I’m having quite the week aren’t I?! Last night my lovely boy took me to the Hippodrome (Via Poppy Red for chocolate and raspberry fondant *drools*) to see Hairspray. I adore Hairspray – I haven’t seen the infamous Ricki Lake version, but my John Travolta DVD version is beginning to wear a little thin! Not only is it a poignant story but has a cracking soundtrack and a humour I can’t help but giggle at no matter how many times I watch.
Last night’s performance was not too shabby. In fact, it was fabulous – as expected. I am always so envious of such talent; voices that make your skin tingle and dance moves that highly embarrass my two left feet. I grinned with sheer delight from the opening chords and more than once a small tear collected from happiness. Not all characters blew me away, Link and Corny seemed to be lacking a little in necessary charisma, but pretty much everyone else did. But the show was stolen by Brain Conley playing Edna Turnblad.
For any international readers, allow me to give a brief history. Brain Conely, was a ‘comedian’ when I was little. His TV shows aired on weekend evenings and had me roaring with laughter. As I got older I felt a little cheated by this man’s ‘talent’ as he moved into ‘presenting’ and an insistence at singing live at any given opportunity. His singing made me cringe and created something of a teenage loathing for the man. I have barely seen anything of him since these lounge singer days. But oh, how I take it all back. And how ironic that it should be his comedic musical performance that redeem him in my eyes.
He was truly magnificent, entertaining, funny and clearly loving every moment of his life on stage. He appeared confident and content with his theatrical role. Unlike another ex-comedian who tread last night’s boards. Les Dennis played Wilbur, Edna’s eccentric husband. Again, for international readers, Les Dennis can only really be described as ‘washed up’ since his glamorous wife left him some years ago (she’s now doing rather well for herself). We would watch him, again on 80’s comedy shows, and laugh – not realising that he was actually a bit rubbish.
It was a little painful watching him so unbelievably out of his depth last night, that I felt genuinely sorry for him, and hugely uncomfortable. It was as if a producer had found him in a carboard box on some street corner and remembering his stellar 80’s career just had to find him a job out of some misplaced childish loyalty. He tried, bless him – and I think he must be enjoying his tour, but unfortunately it would seem it can’t wash away the previous years of downfall. Lost, awkward and sad looking; it was worrying to watch. I just thank the lord that in his scenes he had Brian Conley to pull him through.
So, not the most consistent talent and therefore not the most outstanding overall performance I have ever seen, but these little hiccups didn’t matter. I loved it. The general cast were excellent and the music as infectious as ever. So much so, that we put on the DVD as soon as we got in! There’s nothing like a little entertaining musical cheeriness to send you into a dream-filled sleep. I highly recommend it!