To a packed house of theatre fans, press and famous faces from the world of British soaps, Hairspray began its run in Manchester with a bang.
Freya Sutton as central character Tracey Turnblad kicked things off with a superb rendition of "Good Morning Baltimore" which set the scene and the tone for what was to come. As she stands up for herself and her dreams (the main one of which is to dance on The Corny Collins show/meet & fall in love with Link Larkin), from the outset she has everyone rooting for her, despite the opposition of individuals and society in general - racism and equality are two issues that are key to the story.
Ashley Gilmour is a great Link, with an air of Chris Colfer's Kurt from Glee about him - his performances and stage presence are both strong and his interaction and chemistry with Sutton is undeniable.
The production and choreography throughout the entire production is flawless, although Dex Lee as Seaweed is perhaps the best dancer out of the entire ensemble - from the get go, his slick and sharp moves have the audience behind him as they sit thoroughly immersed in his performances.
Those of a slightly 'nerdier' nature will identify with Penny Pingleton (Monique Young) and how, as the show progresses and she falls in love, she all but blooms in a a strikingly beautiful, confident woman - I for one had to resist cheering when that happened.
Perhaps the best known name in the cast, Claire Sweeney does well as Velma Von Tussle, the producer of The Corny Collins Show and mother to the rather snobby Amber - they're both characters you love to hate but Amber wins it by a hair (I had flashbacks of the popular girls in high school who made my life hell!)
The few comedy moments featured in the performance come from Tony Maudsley as Tracy's mum Edna and Peter Duncan as her dad Wilbur. Their duet of "You're Timeless To Me" is brilliant, especially when performed with the mix of humour and genuine compassion the two have for one another.
Vocally however, no-one fares better than Motormouth Mabel played by X-Factor alum Brenda Edwards. As she delivers a thunderous, emotive rendition of "I Know Where I've Been", were the theatre not so stable, she would have no doubt literally brought the house down, so strong and loud are the cheers and whistles she receives as she belts out the final note.
As the performance draws to a close, the audience are on their feet for "You Can't Stop The Beat" with many dancing along and they remain standing for a good five minutes as gradually, the entire cast are reunited on stage and stand together to soak up the cheers and applause directed at them from all corners of the venue.
Hairspray plays at The Palace Theatre, Manchester until Saturday.