Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Youth having a good hair day

Georgia Towler as Tracy Turnblad has her heart and feet set on a spot on her local TV station's teen dance show


Youth Onstage

Dovehouse Theatre, Olton


FORMED nine years ago, Youth Onstage chose this Marc Shaiman musical hit for their 18th production and it's proving a trim and tidy triumph for the young cast.

They handle the story of ‘pleasantly plump' schoolgirl Tracy Turnblad's drive to succeed on a local TV dance show, and at the same time challenge racism in 1960s Baltimore, with remarkable skill and enthusiasm.

All the lead players fit comfortably into their roles, act and sing well and complement Suzy Bleasdale's lively choreography after the enjoyable opening number, Good Morning Baltimore, which sets the tone.

Georgia Towler – suitably padded up for the occasion – is a delight as Tracy, a girl with a big hairdo and heart to match, and John Glennon in drag proves an excellent Edna Turnblad, the youngster's amusing laundrywoman mum (a role perfected on the professional stage by Brian Conley).

An impressive performance, too, from Hannah Brook, playing the arrogant and jealous Amber Von Tussle who is peeved that Tracy has her eyes on her handsome boyfriend, Link Larkin, lead male dancer on the TV show.


James Hudson is convincing as Larkin, torn between the two girls, and Kitty Campbell has some outstanding moments as the prejudiced TV show boss Velma Von Tussle.

Then along comes Jasmine Rawlins (record shop owner Motormouth Maybelle), She reveals a lovely voice that makes  you sit up and take notice, particularly in I Know Where I've Been.

Dominic Harris (Seaweed J. Stubbs), is another fine performer, while  Ellie Snowden shows a genuine flair for comedy as Tracy's best pal, Penny Lou Pingleton) and there are strong contributions from Chris Tierney (Corny Collins), Samara Rawlins (Little Inez), Gwill Milton (Wilbur Turnblad) and James Prescott (Harriman F. Spritzer).

And the award for the biggest and warmest smile in the show must go to little Jay Alves, a really cute lad in the chorus. You couldn't miss his enthusiasm.

Bubbly Tracy's pursuit of stardom and successful campaign against racism in a splendid show is soundly directed by Deb Brook, with Andy Johnson's musical direction. To 03.12.11

Paul Marston 

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