Q: Could you tell us about Motormouth Maybelle and what attracted you to the role?
A: I remember watching the original film and then I went to see the musical in 2007 on Broadway and in 2008 in the West End, I really enjoyed the show, but was particularly excited by the Motormouth character.
Having a son and daughter of my own, I could relate to her nurturing strong protective side where she has to be in charge. Then there is the entertaining side, where she plays her music and has fun with everyone, whilst having that serious side lending an ear or a shoulder if needed, but she does have her own opinions on things and doesn’t mind voicing it. Owning her own record shop I think she is the central hub where all the kids in the neighbourhood can come and hang out – and the songs she sings are just fabulous! She has a big personality just like me, so I think it’s a perfect role.
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Q: You did the previous tour of Hairspray, what drew you back?
A: I wanted to come back on this tour for the second time, because it really helped to get me through, what I was going through, when after the first half of the tour, I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.
The songs in the show are uplifting in so many different ways and performing in the show helped me not to focus on the chemotherapy. One of the songs that I sing and especially drew strength from, was I Know Where I Have Been, the words already had so much meaning to me, and throughout the rest of the tour helped me to stay positive and keep thinking of brighter days!
So I guess to me it was very therapeutic and just what I needed. It is also very important for me to be able to do the tour again because I have got some personal demons to deal with of being able to do the whole tour this time round, there was one venue I couldn’t do at all. But we are going back to it, Venue Cymru in Llandudno. I drove there from our previous venue, Milton Keynes on the Sunday and woke up on the Monday and couldn’t walk. I was just stuck there, for a few days while everyone else was doing the show – I was so upset. So yeah, I’m excited about this second tour for so many reasons.
Q: How has it been being back in rehearsals? Does it feel different to the last tour?
A: Oh my god, yes! It’s amazing! I thought Drew McOnie’s choreography was a lot the first-time round, (well, it was a lot the first-time round). But, this time round, it’s almost like choreography wise we are doing what we had the first time round and then add the same amount on again, but all in the same period of time. I also think, as I obviously haven’t been doing much exercise over the last year I’m finding it a bit harder this time round to get up to speed, but the more we run it the easier it’s becoming – it’s the best all singing all dancing workout ever.
I’m absolutely loving it, the cast are so talented, I’m enjoying getting to know everyone. But it’s great – it’s so much fun and the energy.
Q: What can audiences expect from Hairspray? If anyone is not familiar with the show, how would you describe it in three words?
A: Bigger, brighter and beautifuller. I love it. Audiences can expect energy, a lot of laughs, some fantastic songs played by a phenomenal band, while at the same time listening to the message which I think is so current.
I know I am sounding like I am a 1960s hippy, but I just wish everyone would just spread the love and get on with one another, put your differences aside, because there will always be difference of opinions, that’s what makes us individuals.
I think that’s what this show embodies no matter what race, size, opinions, in the end it’s all about coming together and showing a united front. Hopefully people will come out of the show thinking, “OK, that’s given me food for thought”, at the same time as a great night’s entertainment.
Q: You demonstrated what many deemed as unwavering strength in the face of adversity; touring with Hairspray while battling cancer. How important is it to you to keep inspiring and educating others through raising awareness of this cause?
A: It is very important, if I hadn’t of spoken to somebody to feel the lump in the first place. I could be in a completely different situation right now, so it shows that talking is key, and that, and if it makes just one person get checked out then I have succeeded.
•Hairspray is at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal from June 25-30. Tickets from 08448 11 21 21
We’ve teamed up with Theatre Royal Newcastle to give away a pair of tickets to opening night of Hairspray on June 25.
The show is set in Baltimore in 1962, where Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, is on a mission to dance her way onto national TV. Tracy’s audition makes her a star and she uses her new-found fame to fight for equality.
To be in with a chance of winning, answer this question: where is Hairspray set?
Email your answer with you name and contact details to [email protected] by June 13. Or post your entry to Hairspray Competition, Katy Wheeler, Johnston Press North East, Alexander House, 1 Mandarin Road, Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton, DH4 5RA.
Entries are deleted / shredded once the competition is drawn and details are not passed on to a third party.