Sheffield Lyceum parties again at last as hit musical Hairspray reopens theatre to excited audiences

Musical fans turned out in their droves for the reopening of the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield after 17 months of pandemic closure to see the hit show Hairspray.

Tuesday, 17th August 2021, 2:20 pm

The first night queue to get into the theatre snaked all the way through Tudor Square and around the corner on to Norfolk Street, almost back to the Crucible.

Although most people were astounded to see the queue, they were there to party and nothing could dampen the carnival atmosphere and the excited anticipation.

Sheffield Theatres chief executive Dan Bates was out in the square, helping staff to scan e-tickets – and then we were back inside the beautiful building once more.

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No social distancing here, the place was full to the rafters, although many wore masks while out of their seats.

The auditorium was buzzing and when the show started, after a short delay, everyone was more than ready to whoop and cheer and show their delight.

There’s nothing like being in the audience for a great show – everyone together, being joyfully swept along by watching great performers creating magic on stage. Watching shows on your TV or laptop at home doesn’t come close.

And what a show the cast of Hairspray put on for us – full of vibrancy and pzazz, by turns funny and touching, and nobody flagged for a moment.

R&B trio The Dynamites in Hairspray

Katie Brace plays Tracy Turnblad, the sassy teen in 1962 Baltimore whose ambition to get on a teenage dance show is as big as her hair. She has to overcome prejudice about her size and realises that black kids have a bigger fight to face in racially-segregated USA during the civil rights movement.

Katie was fantastic, full of energy and hugely talented. Rebecca Jayne-Davies as her best friend Penny made the most of all her comedy moments.

The biggest voice on stage – and that’s saying something – came from Loose Woman Brenda Edwards as Motormouth Maybelle, whose charisma and wisdom swept all before her as she fought for her people.

Brenda Edwards, centre, and the cast of Hairspray

Alex Bourne in the drag role of Tracy’s mum Edna and Norman Pace of Hale and Pace fame as husband Wilbur charmed the audience with their comic turns – we loved it when they were having such a great time that they were visibly cracking up.

The music is great, the dancing is as vibrant as the bright costumes and the show puts across serious points about injustice while making you smile and laugh.

It was the perfect, joyful show to reopen the Lyceum and we were all on our feet dancing and cheering at the end – because you can’t stop the beat.

Hairspray is at the Lyceum until August 21. Box office: www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk

Richard Meek, centre, as TV show host Corny Collins with his teenage dance crew in the musical Hairspray
Katie Brace as Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray