MUSICAL theatre really doesn’t get any better than this… well, not on this planet anyway.

Because the fact is that there just aren’t superlatives adequate enough to do justice to this Broadway masterpiece.

To be sure, it would be possible to scatter them about like confetti, but somehow they would all fall short of the mark.

For without any shadow of a doubt, Hairspray is unique in its genre. And one of the main reasons for this is because unlike all the other teenage dramas set in that early 1960s rock ‘n’ roll netherworld before the Beatles arrived, the soundtrack is entirely original.

That means none of the predictable Frankie Lymon, Richie Valens, Shirelles or Dion back numbers. But who cares? For the moment the chords to intro number Good Morning Baltimore kick in, you know this is going to be something utterly amazing.

The story is set in the racially segregated city of Baltimore just before the emerging Civil Rights movement has begun to sow the winds of change destined to change America forever.

But despite this, there’s no heaviness in the plot, for Paul Kerryson’s direction is lighter than a feather. And thanks to this, the cast are simply amazing, carrying all before them.

Freya Sutton as teenage talent show hopeful Tracy Turnblad is absolutely electric, maintaining the high voltage from start to finish, as does Corny Collins (Jon Tsouras) the Mr Fix-it promoter who’s even smoother than his momma’s extra-virgin olive oil.

However, we must look to the wrong side of the tracks for the coolest dude of them all. And that’s Seaweed (Dex Lee) who blows every mind in the house with his gravity-defying moves. This guy has elastic where the rest of us have bones, you’d better believe it.

Elsewhere, crooner Link Larkin (Ashley Gilmour) does a convincingly fine job at the microphone, firing from the hip with every number and breaking girls’ hearts by the handbagful.

Meanwhile, Claire Sweeney’s gloriously prejudiced Velma Von Tussle finds its supremely comic counterpoint in Tony Maudsley’s hysterical take on Tracy’s mum Edna.

He employs all those outrageous pantomime-dame-cum-camp tricks he used to such good effect TV’s Benidorm series, and is justifiably amply rewarded with most of the night’s laughs.

Special mention should also be made of Motormouth Maybelle (Brenda Edwards) a former contestant who is surely living proof that The X Factor may not be quite so appalling after all.

Not so long ago, this blues-strutting derriere-kicking mama, with a voice that’s a blend of Nina Simone, Tina Turner and Bessie Smith all rolled into one, would be a globally-famous soul singer. Of course, it may yet happen, and I really hope it does.

Hairspray is the best musical ever and you mustn’t run the risk of slipping this mortal coil without seeing it. So, as you must know where Malvern is, what are you waiting for? It runs until Saturday (October 10).

John Phillpott