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Dartford and Canterbury: Hairspray the Musical comes to Kent starring Brenda Edwards

Touring can be tough, but former The X-Factor auditionee Brenda Edwards is bringing it on stage every night with the high-energy show Hairspray, while battling breast cancer. What’s On spoke to her as the show reaches Kent.

You previously toured with Hairspray – why did you come back?

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. I obviously haven’t been doing much exercise over the last year so I’m finding it a bit harder this time. I’m absolutely loving it, the cast are so talented, I’m enjoying getting to know everyone. But it’s great – it’s so much fun and the energy! The energy levels are so high all the way through.

Hairspray the musical
Hairspray the musical

Describe Hairspray in three words and tell us what to expect from it.

Bigger, brighter and beautifuller! I love it! 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, I think that’s what this show embodies no matter what race, size or opinions in the end it’s all about coming together and showing a united front.

Tell us about Motormouth Maybelle, your character.

Having a son and daughter of my own, I could relate to her nurturing, strong, protective side where she has to be in charge and then there is the entertaining side, where she plays her music and has fun with everyone. The songs she sings are just fabulous! She has a big personality just like me, so I think it’s a perfect role.

Hairspray is coming to Dartford
Hairspray is coming to Dartford

What inspired you to go into musical theatre?

I was born and raised in the church. There were a lot of times when we never had microphones, so we had to project, and so I grew up singing. But it was Sharon [Osbourne] who told me that she was approached by the producers of Chicago the Musical when I was on The X-Factor in 2005, to come for an audition. I feel so lucky.


It’s Baltimore 1962, where Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, is on a mission to follow her dreams and dance her way onto national TV. Tracy’s audition makes her a local star and soon she is using her new-found fame to fight for equality, bagging local heartthrob Link Larkin along the way.

Hairspray is a musical based on the 1988 film which starred Divine and Ricki Lake by cult filmmaker John Waters.

Brenda Edwards is starring in Hairspray
Brenda Edwards is starring in Hairspray

With music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman and book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, Hairspray originally opened to rave reviews on Broadway in 2002 and went on to win eight Tony Awards, going on to open in London at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2007.

A film of the musical was also released in 2007 which starred John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer and James Marsden. The show stars Norman Pace, who lives in Orpington, as Wilbur Turnblad, Brenda Edwards as Motormouth Maybelle and Layton Williams as Seaweed. Matt Rixon will play Edna Turnblad and Gina Murray joins the cast as Velma Von Tussle, with Edward Chitticks as Link Larkin.


Hairspray will be at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford, from Wednesday, August 30 to Saturday, September 9. For tickets, call 01322 220000 or go to orchardtheatre.co.uk

The show also heads to the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury from Tuesday, May 8 to Saturday, May 12, 2018. To book tickets call 01227 787787 or visit marlowetheatre.com

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