Brenda back and ready to take on a big character

Brenda Edwards in Hairspray SUS-180802-145700001
Brenda Edwards in Hairspray SUS-180802-145700001

Look ahead to summer months and the joyful effervescence of musical Hairspray at the Devonshire Park Theatre from July 2-7.

Hairspray is set in Baltimore 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.

The musical is based on the original 1988 John Waters film which starred Divine and Ricki Lake. Featuring music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, this current stage show stars comedy actor Norman Pace as Wilbur Turnblad, Brenda Edwards as Motormouth Maybelle and Layton Williams as Seaweed. Matt Rixon plays Edna Turnblad and newcomer Rebecca Mendoza makes her debut as Tracy.

Brenda, who thinks of the role of Maybelle as a perfect fit, worked on the first Hairspray tour but a shock diagnosis of cancer meant she had to battle to keep performing.

“I wanted to come back on this tour production 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!

She did find learning new choreography tough at first but her fitness levels are now back up to speed.

She describes the new show as “bigger, brighter and ‘beautifuller’! I love it!” and said: “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, ‘cause there will always be difference of opinions, that’s what makes us individuals...and 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 nights entertainment.” Tickets from £28 available at www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk or on 01323 412000.