THE hairdos are huge, the costumes colossal, and the level of camp is ramped right up... just about everything about the musical Hairspray is big, bold and beautiful.

This high-energy show delivers masses of feelgood factor, with the audience still singing and dancing long after the curtain has gone down.

And the fact that the performers themselves seem to enjoy things just as much – reduced to fits of giggles at one point in the second act – only serves to make the end-of-show smiles even wider.

Set in 1960s Baltimore, Hairspray follows larger-than-life teen Tracy Turnblad as she fights for a place as a dancer on her favourite Corny Collins TV show, despite not fitting the blonde-haired, blue-eyed mould. She wins the day (of course) – and the man (surprise) – and manages to bring about racial integration at the same time.

The message of equality is unmistakably massive, but there is nothing remotely serious about the way it is conveyed. Much of the humour, for example, is derived from the fact that Tracy’s ample mother, Edna, is played by a man – in this production, comic actor Mark Benton. A scene where s/he and her husband Wilbur (Paul Rider) sing of their affection for one another manages to be riotously funny and deeply touching at the same time.

The other recognisable face in this cast is Lucy Benjamin (Eastenders), who displays an impressive singing talent as vindictive former beauty queen Velma Von Tussle.

But quite honestly, the entire crew give huge performances and it’s difficult to find any one person who excels more than any other.

A substantial show, heavy on style and substance... and some pretty big beehives too.