London Blown Away by “Hairspray”


Bucking the recent inability of new American musicals to succeed in London, a new production of “Hairspray” has just opened in the West End to excellent reviews. Both Michael Ball (pictured left) as 1960s Baltimore housewife Edna Turnblad and newcomer Leanne Jones (pictured right) as plump daughter Tracy were singled out for praise, as were director Jack O’Brien and choreographer Jerry Mitchell. The Guardian’s Michael Billington summed up the critical consensus: “The great thing about John Waters’ 1988 cult movie was that you felt every expense had been spared. But even if ‘Hairspray,’ in the process of being turned into a Broadway musical, has lost some of its glorious tackiness, it retains its generous spirit: [‘Hairspray’] not only hymns physical difference but also the basic right to racial integration.”

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