IF you are looking for a fun, feel-good show then get yourself a ticket for Hairspray.
From the moment the curtain goes up and Tracy Turnblad (Freya Sutton) belts out the opening number from her bed, the tone is set for the rest of the show. It's loud and feisty and will have you tapping your toes throughout.
Based on the story of segregation and civil rights in Sixties America, and how one teen music TV show became the centre of attention as black – and large – youth broke down barriers to dance with the slim, white-only boppers, Hairspray manages to turn an uncomfortable and shameful story into one of joy and hope.
That the kitsch and the serious colour issue mix so well is a strength of both the musical and of Jack O'Brien's always exuberant, carefully judged direction.
Mark Benton is a revelation in his role as Tracy's mum, Edna. His duet with husband Wilbur (Paul Rider) at the start of the second act, was a highlight of an evening of highlights, and saw them cheered off to the loudest whoops of the night.
Sandra Marvin as Motormouth Maybelle also received non-stop applause after hitting an unbelievably high note during her solo in the second half.
It's a show with a large and very talented cast. There's love, laughs, frustration, hilarity and great tunes all in equal measure – with the inevitable happy ending.
Some serious issues are confronted, but Hairspray is not a history lesson, rather a delightfully camp romp.
The show plays at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday, August 17.