REVIEW: You Can’t Stop The Beat at Hawick’s production of Hairspray

Edna Turnblad (Kev Sykes) Mr Pinky (Sam John) and Tracy Turnblad (Niamh Scott).Edna Turnblad (Kev Sykes) Mr Pinky (Sam John) and Tracy Turnblad (Niamh Scott).
Edna Turnblad (Kev Sykes) Mr Pinky (Sam John) and Tracy Turnblad (Niamh Scott).
Hawick audiences are being well and truly welcomed to the sixties this week with a show that proves the bigger the girth the bigger the worth.

Hawick Musical Theatre’s Society’s production of Hairspray, set in Baltimore in 1962, focuses on the days of big social change, varying waste lines and even bigger hair does.

Based on the blockbuster hit musical, it tells the story of Tracy Turnblad, a loveable high school student who is on a mission to dance her way onto an all-white national television show.

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Once she does, she’s an unstoppable force as she fights against inequality and for racial integration so every day can be Negro Day.

Tracy (Niamh Scott) and Link Larkin (Alexander Edwards).Tracy (Niamh Scott) and Link Larkin (Alexander Edwards).
Tracy (Niamh Scott) and Link Larkin (Alexander Edwards).

Niamh Scott, who plays the tenacious teenager takes on racism, jibes about her weight and even goes to jail, but eventually wins the day when the Corny Collin’s show becomes fully integrated.

Niamh doesn’t shy away from her big performances including “Good Morning Baltimore” and a duet with mum Edna for “It Takes Two”.

Mrs Turnblad is always played by a man, and it’s Kev Sykes who steps into Edna’s big dress and heels, in his first major role with the group.

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Kev brings humour and sincerity to Edna’s transformation from housewife with no aspirations, to clothing model with renewed dreams of being the “biggest things in brasseries”.

The Turnblad's Wilbur (Steve Law) Tracy ( Niamh Scott) and Edna (Kev Sykes).The Turnblad's Wilbur (Steve Law) Tracy ( Niamh Scott) and Edna (Kev Sykes).
The Turnblad's Wilbur (Steve Law) Tracy ( Niamh Scott) and Edna (Kev Sykes).

Also making his debut in a major role, and indeed his first appearance on the Hawick stage, is Jedburgh Grammar School pupil Alexander Edwards, who plays Tracy’s love interest Link Larkin.

If he had any nerves they were confidently hidden, as he boasted surely the mot confident US accent of the cast.

Tracy’s hapless pal Penny Pingleton, played by Natalie Darcy, delivered plenty clever little one-liners and there are confident performances, too, from Steve Law, as Wilbur Turnblad, Craig McCredie as TV host Corny Collins, from Katie Melvin as Tracy’s rival Amber, from Helen Hoggan as Amber’s conniving mum Velma, and from Fraser Jack, as Tracy’s impromptu dance tutor Seaweed who bridges the racial divide when he falls for Penny.

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Show highlights include the mum and daughters performance of “Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now” and the jailbird women’s “The Big Doll House” led by prison warden Lesley Johnston.

The Dynamites.The Dynamites.
The Dynamites.

And while the show is energetic and fun throughout, it also sincerely portrays the fight for racial integration, brought to the fore by Motormouth Maybelle, played by Caroline Wilkinson, and her emotive performance of “I Know Where I’ve Been” which sparked a huge show of approval from the audience.

Other cast members include, Sam John ad Mr Pinky, Chelsea Fraser as Little Inez, Michael Scouler at Harriman Spritzer, Louise Szoneberg as Prudy, Shelagh Duncan as the principal, Ged Smith as the gym teacher and Zoe John, Claire Oliver and Kim Jeffrey as The Dynamites.

They were backed up by a large and energetic backing cast and a smaller but equally as striking orchestra, led by musical director Derek Calder, who also produced the show this year, alongside choreographer Anne Anderson.

Hairspray begins at 7.30pm and runs nightly this week until Saturday, with a 2.15pm matinee on Saturday. Tickets, costing £15 or £10 for matinee, from ILF Imaging, Howegate.

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