THE musicals staged by Solomon Artistes are quite different from other productions at the Palace Theatre.

Solomon, based in Southend, is a professional agency with a long record of talent spotting.

Some of their most talented discoveries performed in this year’s production, Hairspray, and they prove Solomon is a dab hand at its job. In particular, the showstopping star turn, Amy Rattenbury, playing Tracy Turnblad, is a real case of striking gold.

This is the first homegrown production of Hairspray, although a generation has already grown up with the film version, starring John Travolta. The stage adaptation wisely makes no attempt to depart from the original.

All the characters have a great time with their roles, notably Louise Kempson as the vile Velma, and Jon Buxton as Tracy’s downtrodden, but ever-perky dad.

Good fun comes almost guaranteed, but in the end, of course, it is the music that has to carry the show. The exuberant numbers are well staged, though I did find the choreography a touch repetitive. The chorus work is impeccable. Soaring over everything is the voice of Meg Odegbami as Motormouth Maybelle, a sound that would be worth travelling to Baltimore to hear.

Hairspray runs at the Palace theatre, Westcliff, until Sunday.