The smash hit musical Hairspray arrives to dazzle audiences in Inverness later this month with a host of stars from the stage and screen.
Set in 1960s America, the much-loved stage show tells the story of Baltimore teen Tracy Turnblad - a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, who only has one passion – dancing and of course, winning the heart of teen idol Link Larkin.
She wins a spot on the local television dance programme, The Corny Collins Show and her life is set to change forever.
After her appearance, Tracy becomes an overnight sensation, transforming from outsider to irrepressible teen celebrity.
The role of Tracy Turnblad was top of the list for actress Freya Sutton.
“I couldn’t believe it, because it has always been a dream role for me to play,” said Freya.
“She dances, sings and acts, it is really joyful, but it has a great meaning behind it about integration, about size and weight issues, how you just need to be who you are; it has a love story – it’s just the perfect role.”
This is the second time Freya has played the role of Tracy and she said she has been able to use much from her own life to create her version of the bubbly, loveable Tracy.
“I absolutely love the fat suit I wear. It’s really hot, but it gets me into character and I feel really homey in there,” she said. “I think for me, you have to be a bit bigger anyway for them to cast you. You would look a bit silly if you had lovely slender legs and then a big fat suit in the middle.
“But it also helps for the acting behind it. I’m a size 14 and I’ve been that since I can remember, and in the real world that’s normal, but for me, in the dance industry when I’m surrounded by really muscley slender girls or bulky kind of men, I’ve kind of felt that pressure on my body and it really helps me get into the acting.
“Being older now I’ve come to accept that’s who I am and I am a healthy person and I can live my life and I’m fully accepting of who I am. For the part in the show when she’s not allowed to be on the programme because she’s overweight, I can kind of draw upon my past, when I felt I wasn’t good enough because I was bigger than the person next to me.”
Following in the tradition established by drag queen Divine in the original 80s film, the role of Edna Turnblad is played by a man. In the 2007 adaptation, John Travolta showed us his feminine side and now it’s the turn of TV star Tony Maudsley, who dons a fabulous dress and feather boa for the role of Edna.
Well known for his long-running role on ITV1’s Benidorm as Kenneth, Tony will follow in the high-heeled footsteps of Michael Ball, Mark Benton and Brian Conley as the larger-than-life character.
Tony is an acclaimed actor of both stage and screen, who has treaded the boards in productions of Dogs Barking at Bush Theatre and the UK tour of South Pacific, while on TV, he has recently appeared in The Job Lot, New Tricks, Mo and Doc Martin.
He will be joined onstage by actress and presenter Claire Sweeney as Velma Von Tussle, Olivier Award nominated actor and much-loved Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan as Wilbur Turnblad and X-Factor favourite and West End performer Brenda Edwards who takes on the role of Motormouth Maybelle.
Claire Sweeney first came to prominence with her long-running role as Lindsey Corkhill in Brookside. Since leaving the soap in 2003, Claire has been no stranger to the stage with acclaimed roles in Chicago, Dirty Dancing, Legally Blonde: The Musical, Educating Rita, Guys and Dolls, Tell Me On A Sunday as well as the world tour of Fosse.
Peter Duncan is an Olivier Award nominated actor who first came to attention as a presenter on the iconic television show Blue Peter. Peter began his career on stage with Laurence Olivier’s National Theatre company at London’s Old Vic and subsequently went on to be Olivier Award nominated for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance in The Card and starred as Barnum in Barnum.
Brenda Edwards was first noted for her vocal talent in 2005 when she entered The X-Factor. After finishing the competition in fourth place under the guidance of Sharon Osbourne, Brenda went on to star in long-running musicals such as Chicago and We Will Rock You.
This vibrant, high-octane show is packed full of great music and feel-good songs and is guaranteed to have you dancing the night away.
Hairspray: The Musical will begin its week-long run at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness on February 29.