Mercury Theatre, Colchester. Until Saturday.

WHEN it comes to musical choices, it must have been tough for the Colchester Operatic Society to choose Hairspray.

On the one hand it’s got come killer songs running through it as well as some absolutely scene stealing roles any performer would give their right hand to be cast in.

But on the other side of the coin at its heart is a story about the race riots of the Sixties and the struggles black people had at the time to be recognised equally with their white counterparts.

This is fine if you have enough black performers to be in the show, a little weird if you do not, even when you have the excellent Will Mugford in one of the ‘black’ roles.

To be fair to Will, and director David Rutter, they play it straight down the line. It would be a lot worse if they tried being black when it’s clear they are not but it’s an undeniable fact some of the lines do occasionally jar.

But should that have stopped COS putting on the show altogether?

Not when you have the wonderful Sophia Twohey in the performance of her dreams smashing it out of the park as Tracy or Thomas Pleasant providing more than able support as dreamy love interest, Link Larkin.

And then there’s the delightful pairing of Jonathan Davis as dad Wilbur, and Olly Medlicott, the latter superbly dragging it up as Tracy’s mum, Edna.

Their gorgeous romantic duet is one the highlights of the show and so perhaps when you have a man dressed up as a woman, totally convincing you they are utterly in love with each other, then may be, just may be, you can suspend your disbelief elsewhere.

As in previous shows, the ensemble pieces are slickly done and while I don’t often mention the choreography in a show, this production’s numbers are so good, it would be more than a little remiss if I didn’t single out Deborah Marks for high praise indeed.

It would also be remiss of me not to single out the black performers who are in the show, such as the supremely talented Chi Chi Armstrong, who still managed to belt out her numbers with aplomb despite being restricted to a wheelchair due to an accident pre-rehearsals.

And then there’s the name that everyone should be watching out for in the future, Chantelle Onwordi, who I cannot wait to see in a larger role - perhaps Dorothy in A Wizard of Oz which CO2 are doing later in the year.

This is one of the best musicals of modern times and despite the obvious casting problems, I think COS made the right decision to do it.

If they hadn’t, Sophia wouldn’t be basking in glory, Jonathan and Olly wouldn’t be having the time of their lives and I wouldn’t be still humming to that damned beat.