At the press launch we were introduced to the new cast and treated to a flawless performance of "Good Morning Baltimore" by newcomer Freya Sutton. Fresh out of college, the part of Tracy Turnblad is Freya’s professional debut. As a huge fan of the show herself, she described how she was totally in awe when meeting an ex-Tracy, Chloe Hart. Like Tracy, Freya’s excitement and enthusiasm is infectious and this role gives her the opportunity to live her dream too. What’s more the show is opening at her local theatre!
Taking the role of Tracy’s mother, Edna Turnblad, is experienced stage and television star Mark Benton, best known most recently as Chalky in Waterloo Road. Although Mark was in bands when he was younger and has always sung, Hairspray is his first musical. Having dressed up as Edna for the first time, he says he looks just like his ‘mam’! Mark claims the hardest thing about being a woman is having to wear his size ten heels, which he practicing wearing for an hour every day. He thinks the tour will be great fun for both the audience and cast members.
Sandra Marvin has been with the show since it first opened in the UK and is returning to play DJ Motormouth Maybelle. Sandra’s way to keep the show fresh is to ‘really mean what you are saying’. This comes across when she performs the second and final song at the press launch "I Know Where I’ve Been", which she sings from the heart and showcases her wealth of experience in the role. Sandra told us how amazing Hairspray fans are and she especially loves it when members of the audience dress up, so get your hairspray and 60’s dresses ready!
Seaweed will be played by last year’s X Factor runner up Marcus Collins, who is feeling both excited and privileged to join the cast. As an ex-hairdresser, he joked about doing everyone’s wigs backstage and he just can’t wait for the tour to start!
Former Eastenders star and Celebrity X Factor winner Lucy Benjamin has been cast as baddie Velma Von Tussle. Lucy, who is returning to her theatre roots, is really looking forward to playing vile Velma, a real character that she itching to get her teeth into. Lucy’s daughter is over the moon and already practicing the part with her!
The Hairspray press launch has left me with a spring in my step and I "can't stop the beat" now on loop in my head. I can’t wait to see this excited and exuberant cast when the show gets on the road. Show rehearsals begin in January, before the UK tour launches in February at The Lowry.
- Kathryn Phillips