After watching smash-hit musical Hairspray on Monday, we simply couldn’t get enough of this fantastic feel-good show so when we heard the cast would be down at Manchester’s All Star Lanes for an afternoon of bowling, milkshakes and backstage gossip we simply couldn’t say no!
Rebecca Mendoza, who plays the show’s heroine Tracy Turnblad, Edward Chitticks (the dreamy Link Larkin), Monifa James (Little Inez) and Aimee Moore (Amber Von Tussle) took a break between strikes to tell us a little more about the show that brought Manchester audiences to their feet on Monday, the first night of a two week run at the city’s Opera House.
Aimee Moore, currently thrilling audiences as love to hate Amber Von Tussle describes the show as ‘A fabulous feel-good show set in the 1960’s, as well as great singing, great dancing, great comedy and great acting the show also tackles some really important issues such as segregation, equality and body image, it’s a wonderful show in which we see people come together and unite despite their differences”.
Monifa James who plays super talented Little Inez added ‘We love that with this show an audience can come and have an amazing time but also go away having learnt something, no one is telling you what should think or feel but that message of equality gets delivered in a really fun and entertaining way’.
The response from Monday’s opening night audience was one of the loudest we’ve heard in a long time, Edward Chitticks described it as ‘Sounding like a roar, the response was just epic, it’s made us even more excited for the next two weeks in Manchester, we just know we’re going to have the most amazing time in the city, the audience last night were just spectacular! Edwards added, ‘It’s an absolutely brilliant bubble-gum show, the music is brilliantly catchy, the songs are incredible, the cast and their voices are amazing, everyone is so full of such energy and power, there’s so much style across the board, moments of real comedy, then behind all of that important messages challenging everyone and asking them to tackle important messages such as racism, prejudice, it’s like a present that’s beautifully gift wrapped and inside it has something of incredible worth’.
Rebecca Mendoza feels strongly that Hairspray is a real message of love, ‘The story is told through love, Tracy’s love for Link, Tracy’s love for dancing, the love she has for all of her friends, it’s told through so much joy that you leave at the end having had so much fun but also having learned about equality and acceptance and I think that’s a really beautiful thing’.
Rebeecca Mendoza came straight to the show from the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, and told us a little more about how it feels to make her professional debut in such a spectacular and much loved production, ‘I can’t even find words to describe how incredible it’s been, I literally graduated a week before we started rehearsals, I went from one week standing in my cap and gown to the next week playing the lead in a musical, it’s just been incredible, I’ve learnt so so much, it’s been the most amazing time, I couldn’t have dreamt of a better role than Tracy’.
Fellow recent graduate Monifa James who also graduated from the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts explained how it feels coming into a new cast of experienced actors, ‘It’s so rewarding working with different actors with different levels of experience, I’ve learnt so much from my fellow cast members we all very quickly felt like one big family, I’ve enjoyed bringing enthusiasm and energy and also been grateful for the support and advice I’ve received off fellow cast members, Brenda Edwards who plays my Mum, Motormouth Maybell has helped me so much, she’s returned to the show and so has given me great advice and guidance’.
Featuring the iconic music and lyrics of Academy Award, Tony and Emmy-winning duo Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, this multi-layered musical also boasts choreography from Olivier Award-winning Drew McOnie. Aimee shared that ‘Drew Maconie has been so amazing to work with, I can’t sing his praises highly enough, it’s an absolute joy to dance his choreography every night, he is fabulous, the audience response is incredible every night, it’s so intricate and so interesting it will literally blow you away’.
When asked about mixing Drew McOnie’s stunning choreography with fast-paced vocal tracks such as You Can’t Stop the Beat Edward explained ‘We barely breathed in the rehearsal rooms! It’s almost like training for a marathon; you have to build your stamina and your strength to sing live then match it up with the choreography ready to perform eight times a week and give the same energy for every performance’.
Now we know the one thing that cast simply couldn’t live without on stage is Hairspray but we were keen to find out if there’s anything they have to have with them when touring. Both Monifa and Aimee revealed their top 2 items when packing for the tour are a massage tool in the form of a foam roller and a portable speaker, Aimee explained ‘We couldn’t live without our rollers, we use them to iron out any muscle pain to ensure we’re in the best condition we can be in ahead of each show’. Monifa added ‘I absolutely have to have music in the dressing room so I always make sure I have a portable speaker, it doesn’t even matter what music just as long as there is something playing’.
Rebecca revealed she has a pillow with her dogs face on that she’s be lost without while Edward confessed mints and porridge oats are a must! ‘I have to start my day with a bowl of oats, whatever the day it starts with a bowl of Scottish oats, I also have to have mints, I’ve got this huge thing about fresh breath, maybe it’s because I do so much kissing in the show with both Amber and Tracy but I always have to have them, even one of our wigs ladies has our some handy for me, I have them in my dressing room, I’ve even got some with me now!’
When asked why audiences should come Rebecca and Edward described the show as; Full of fun, stylish, energetic, powerful, great messages, great fun for young and old, the hottest seat in town with slick fast-paced tunes, slick fast-paced choreography amazing talent and if that’s not enough Edward challenges all audience members to try and count just how many times he winks during the show, challenge accepted!
For you fabulous feel-good and feisty fix with the nicest kids in town click here tickets. On at the Opera House until Saturday 7th April