This week I was on Follow-spot duty at the Arts Centre for Harlequin’s performances of Hairspray and I can say without a shadow of a doubt it was a great success. Considering I’m not the biggest fan of musicals and the thought of seeing the same on six or seven times in a week did leave me wondering if this was a good idea. Thankfully it was.

John Robertson’s first time as the Director and he can walk away with his head held high on what the show achieved. The look and feel of the show was his vision and he used what is not the biggest stage to its capacity using rotating “toblerones” to aid scene changes. Combined with his daughter Lisa’s excellent choreography and Craig McDermott’s musical direction the show was slick and above the standard many would expect from an amateur company.

The star of the show in every sense was “Tracy Turnblad” played by Amanda Watt. Amanda is someone I was aware of – mostly because she’s my cousin’s girlfriend – but without any signs of nepotism, she stole the show and put on a flawless performance every single time. Many said it was the part she was born to play, but that doesn’t give her enough credit for the job she did. At no point watching her did you see the cogs turning, or the performance being “switched on”, it was a naturalistic and genuinely brilliant turn. Everyone was talking about her and my favourite moment came when she came to the top of the stairs during the bows and everyone in the auditorium got to their feet as one to celebrate her achievement.

My little Kate Monster, aka Sophie Boyne, aka Penny Pingleton was another great performance but for a different reason. Not in the limelight as often, but when she was she was a great comedic force on stage and the perfect foil for Amanda’s Tracy. Often during scenes I wasn’t required to point and light you would find yourself drawn to all the little bits of “business” and acting Sophie did in the background. She is just such a natural performer that it will be sad not to see her for the next wee while, but I wish her and Murray all the best for their upcoming wedding in the new year and the family that follows.

I could rattle through so much of the rest of the cast and praise the job they did – from principles to chorus it really was a team effort, but there’s only so much people would read. Special mention for the comedy duo of Edna and Wilbur (Stuart and Gavin) who kept the comedy levels up and Tehillah as “Seaweed” who blasted “Run and tell that” every night and deserved the ovation he received each night. The company gelled really well and that’s down to all the creative team’s work.

All I can say is thanks for letting me be just a small part in the show and can’t wait to see what Harlequin does next.


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