Tell us a bit about your character.
I play Motormouth Maybelle. She runs a record shop in Baltimore, which in the pinnacle place where all the cool kids go and hang out. I also appear once a month of the main TV station on a show which they call negro day, basically dropping all the hits that everyone needs to get down to. She’s motherly, she’s funky, she’s fun and she’s a confident lady.
You have played the part before, what drew you back to the production?
I love it, it’s a lovely role. The show itself has amazing songs, the energy and joy that radiates from the show is genuine and you can’t help but feel it. It’s contagious, it’s from the cast members, we get moved by it and it does go out to the audience members, which is why they jump up at the end and they are dancing, it comes out. It’s not a fake thing, with people wondering whether they should stand up, everyone just wants to get up and join in. It’s so nice today to have something that they can genuinely, excuse the pun, let their hair down and just enjoy themselves. It’s a brilliant night out and everyone is always saying about the message, there is a strong message in the show and the show also has a heart, it’s a lovely story, it’s still current.
Is there anything that you want to bring to the role this time round?
Yes the character is fearless, her fearlessness and her strength, the love that she has, she’s a very loving character. Everything that she has comes from love, how much love she has for herself, for her children, for her community. She tries to teach that to other people as well.
What is your favourite song in the show and why?
There are two actually. I love "Welcome to the 60’s" because it is so colourful and fun and glamorous, the Dynamites when they come out, I would remember seeing performances when the Dynamites would sing at the end and the audience would be like woah at the end, the glamour of "Welcome to the 60’s". Then I also love "Run and tell that!" because throughout the show everything is tailored , it’s a different sound, up until that moment Run and tell that! when the doors are opened to the black community, you’ve seen them in the school gym, you’ve seen them in detention, but this is the first time you see them in their home place and the music is amazing. All the songs anyway are very much 60’s / 70’s soul and motown tracks, but that song takes off for me. It really takes off, I really like that song.
Why do you think the show is so successful?
Because it’s relevant, and if I say it’s honest, I mean it makes people feel for the characters, people understand Edna and follow her transition, they follow Tracy’s transition and they want these characters to do well, they’re routing for them. The way the books been written, the way the music has been written you really care about those characters and I think that’s why, 1) because you really care about them and 2) it brings that much joy to people.
What are you looking forward to the most about touring?
I love going to the different cities and bringing it to the different cities and seeing how different audiences react. Different jokes land in different places, they all laugh at different things. It’s quite a surprise sometimes you’ll say something and people will absolutely burst out laughing in one place and somewhere else they will laugh at something completely different.
Do you find it hard touring around different places?
As long as I can keep coming back home, I’m quite a home girl, so I need to go home now and then, but apart from that, no it’s fine. With touring as well you are such a family, it becomes such a close knit thing and you become reliant on each other because you wake up and you are somewhere different, so those people becomes the same people you see every day, like when you are in London you are doing your own thing with your own people during the day and then you see them at work, but work is your whole life when you are on tour.
If you could play any other character apart from your own in the show, who would it be?
VELMA! I love her, I love her drama, I love that she’s camp, I love Velma - I find her hilarious, I haven’t actually played a baddie before.
Is that something you would like to do?
Yeah possibly! Yeah, I would actually! I can’t see them possibly ever offering me Velma, for obvious reasons but I’d love that character.
Sandra Marvin was speaking to Kathryn Phillips.
Hairspray is at the Lowry from 11 - 23 February, 2013.