THEATRE: Hairspray at the Congress Theatre. Review by Laura Sonier

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BRIGHT and bouncy as a 60s bouffant beehive, Hairspray thrilled the Congress audience on the opening night.

Eastbourne theatregoers can be a little reticent, but the whole auditorium were on their feet at the finale - applauding and shimmying.

On its first national tour, the West End hit, based on the John Waters film, has plenty of vim and vigour.

Tracy Turnblad (Laurie Scarth) dreams of dancing on the Corny Collins Show, a whites only TV smash in Baltimore.

Producer Velma Von Tussle (Gillian Kirkpatrick) is less than impressed with Tracy’s generous curves and is desperately trying to push her daughter Amber (Clare Halse) into the spotlight.

Will Tracy get her chance to Madison? And will the show change its racial policy to allow her black friends to take part?

For such a superficially fluffy show, Hairspray certainly manages to tackle plenty of issues - race relations, acceptance - amid the singing, dancing and general larking about.

There are fine performances from the cast, especially Laurie Scarth as the loved-up Tracy, Michael Starke and Micky Dolenz as Tracy’s parents, Emma Dukes as Tracy’s geeky friend Penny, Gillian Fitzpatrick as the witchy Velma, Wayne Robinson as the smooth-moving Seaweed and Sandra Marvin as Motormouth Maybelle. The show is bookended by the two most catchy numbers: Good Morning Baltimore and the (almost ubiquitous) You Can’t Stop the Beat, but there is a terrific performance by Motormouth singing I Know Where I’ve Been and a neat comic duet between Tracy’s parents.

Hairspray certainly has the feel-good factor in abundance - fans should snap up a ticket.

Hairspray is on at the Congress Theatre until February 26, with evening performances at 7.30pm and Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm.

Tickets cost from £22-£42.50, call 412000.