A combination of circumstance, opportunity and enjoyment has recently seen me attend the Melbourne production of Hairspray not once, but four times! This is a first for me, as I don’t recall ever going to a theatrical production this many times.
There’s no doubting Hairspray is a fantastic show. Check out my review. Going four times was a great lesson in theatre. Naturally, I sat in four different places: three times in the stalls and once in the grand circle (balcony). As you’d expect, my experience was slightly different each time.
When I sat close to the edges, I realised even the best of productions like this one, so tightly directed and performed, still have minor sight line issues with the positioning of parts of the set and blocking of characters on stage. Hairspray uses 7-metre tall screens for their sets with lots of animation and moving images – sort of like the biggest LCD TVs you’ve ever seen! As a result of this, seats too close to the stage can make one a little giddy. Sitting up really in the stalls is actually a disadvantage in Hairspray, as some distance is needed to “take in” the set, or you’ll feel like you’re sitting too close to your plasma at home.
Akin to reading a novel four times, watching Hairspray this often resulted in picking up little nuances and character action in the second or third sitting. Hairspray’s plot is not too complex to understand the first time around, but so much action takes place on stage that subsequent viewings highlighted background detail, stage business and facial expressions, making a far richer experience.
Interestingly, I never tired of the songs, the plot, the musical’s themes and messages or the funny lines (I waited for them and laughed louder each time). If you love a show and see it twice, great. After the third time, you think you’d get a bit bored with it no matter how much you liked it, yeah? Nope! I still loved Hairspray just as much the fourth time around and for me, that’s a lesson in itself.
The big question is, am I “losing it”? Some of my friends who haven’t seen the Melbourne production of Hairspray at all, think I’m going insane for seeing the same show four times. Maybe I am ……