I promised I would take Missy to Hairspray. She came running out of her music class one evening in September begging me to go in and get tickets. “Everyone is in there, we need to hurry!” So we did…only to land into the middle of a rehearsal. The tickets weren’t even printed!  Missy waited with baited breath.

Life happened in the meantime until Missy spotted a poster advertising the show with the words SOLDOUT smacked on top of it. A serious wailing and gnashing of teeth followed. “You promised!”  ‘Guilty’ was my first name and Missy persevered until the universe conspired with stuff that rainbows are made of, reinforcing the saying ‘If you want something bad enough….’ and what a shame if we had of missed it.  From the moment Missy climbed into her seat, the magic began.

Set in the 1960s in Baltimore, with liberation in the air, Hairspray tells the story of Tracy Turnblad (played brilliantly by Emily Bird) a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart as she sets out to follow her extraordinary dreams, inspire her mum, Edna Turnblad—Adam  McGlinchey played the daunting task of Edna, carrying it off better than John Travolta in the movie version—and wins the boy she loves, Link Larkin (played by a smooth Oran Hegarty) while helping racial integration along the way.

Colourful, cheery, energetic, and all the feel good you’ll even need, Crana College’s production of Hairspray reminds us that fun comes in all shapes, sizes and colour and this production left no doubt in anyone’s mind…Crana College is bursting with talent.

Ellen Lavelle did a wonderfully funny job playing Tracy’s awkward best friend, Penny Pingleton, alongside Prudy Pingleton, played convincingly by Suzanne Callaghan. Amber Von Tussle and her mom (protrayed solidly by Jessica McShane and Nicole Lynch) represent the forces that Tracy fights against, and if it is something of a straw-man confrontation, the storyline provided enough substance for a host of catchy songs and energetic dance routines performed by over sixty of a cast who sang and danced their hearts out to entertain us all.

Crana’s college’s music teacher Laura Keogh was at the helm of the production team. Her commitment and dedication was evident in the polished performance of the cast that was supported by competent musicians and all the unsung heroes behind the scenes.

During the show I spotted the principal of Crana College, Liam Galbraith, making a quick set change. When I asked him about it after the show he told me I was very observant but credited the hugely talented and charismatic Laura Keogh, the cast and crew and everyone who paddled hard behind the scenes for making the show a success in the midst of meeting the normal daily goals of school life.

“It is a balancing act but it essentially develops confidence in our students and encourages all involved to take responsibility as we work together as a team.” He also felt it was important to bring it out to the community and perform in St Mary’s hall.

Nodding in agreement I thought of my recent trip to the Opera House in Belfast to see Cats. I and can happily say I was entertained just as much by Crana’s production of Hairspray. Swanky theatres and professional productions are all very well but there is something magical about seeing the nostalgia of St Mary’s hall transported for a time, to a theatrical realm where talent from the local college grease up their alter egos and give their all.

And only for Missy’s refusal to take SOLDOUT for an answer I nearly missed it! Congratulations Crana College, on another brilliant performance!