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Hairspray handset translates show’s appeal

Published 3 December 2009

A new subtitling handset being offered to audience members of the hit musical Hairspray is bringing the show’s catchy lyrics to theatregoers in their native language.

The AirScript, which was launched late last month, offers audience members the chance to enjoy the show’s script transmitted in real time to the palm of their hand. The system currently offers the service in eight languages: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Japanese and Chinese.

Alexander Vegh, Chief Executive of Show Translations, who originated the idea, said: “Existing translation solutions in theatres do not cater for everyone satisfactorily. For example, a screen to the side of the stage can only provide one language and can be very distracting for the audience members who don’t require translations. What we wanted to deliver was a solution that can provide multiple simultaneous translations at any theatre on an individual basis, including for those who are deaf or hearing impaired. What we have developed with Cambridge Consultants is just that; a simple, reliable and convenient system to cater for a wide variety of needs.”

The subtitles, which have been available at Hairspray since 20 November, are controlled by a stage prompt, ensuring the translation that appears on the handset is synchronised with the on-stage action.

The story of big girl with big hair Tracy Turnblad and her determination to prove that dancing is for everyone, Hairspray opened at the Shaftesbury theatre in 2007, when it starred Michael Ball as plus-sized matriarch Edna. It went on to win four Laurence Olivier Awards including Best New Musical.

Hairspray currently stars comedian Phill Jupitus and 80s pop star Belinda Carlisle.



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