Former soap star slips into his slingbacks for Hairspray “You immerse yourself in it” “It appeals to all ages” Mock the Week star ‘gruntled’ at
Andy Parsons is taking his Gruntled stand-up show to the Music Hall in Aberdeen.
WHEN David Cameron asked how happy British people are, he should have known that one of the country’s comedians would turn it against him. Mock The Week star Andy Parsons has devoted his 2011 tour Gruntled to the topic. “As you can imagine, the economy will be featuring quite heavily,” said the funnyman. “After all when the government is making 5,000 people unemployed it’s great comic material to ask how happy we are.” Andy will play to a packed Music Hall in Aberdeen tomorrow as part of a tour that started in February. However, after 20 years of doing stand-up Andy’s not daft enough to burn himself out too quickly. “In the early days I used to cope with one day off a week but I don’t have the stamina for that any more. “I try to do Thursday, Friday and Saturday and then I can get home and recharge my batteries by watching any random sporting event, ” said the 43-year-old from Dorset, who now lives in London. Andy will also be taking a break from touring to film the latest series of Mock The Week starting in June. “I know that Dara (O’Briain) and myself are definitely signed up for the next 12-week block, but I'm not sure if there will be anyone new involved.” While Andy forged a solid reputation on radio and on the live circuit before Mock The Week, the Friday night hit-show has made him a
That’s because the role of Edna Turnblad, the largerthan-life mum in the feelgood show, isn’t a drag act or panto dame, as Michael is at pains to point out. “The character is a woman – it’s not a drag, it’s not a dame, Edna is a woman and you have to respect that,” said the actor who found fame as Sinbad in Brookside. “Edna has a tender motherand-daughter moment with Tracy (Edna’s daughter) early on in the show. “When you get to that moment you can hear a pin drop and that’s the point that confirms the audience have bought that Edna is a woman ... and we love that.” Hairspray, which arrives at HMT for a two-week run on Tuesday, is set in 1960s America. It tells of Tracy following her dream to become a regular on a local TV dance show – and using the opportunity to speak out on civil rights. Since its first outing as a John Waters movie, with TENDER: Michael as Edna, with Laurie Scarth, who plays daughter Tracy in the hit show. Divine in the Edna role, it found new life as a Broadway and West End musical then Hollywood film, starring John Travolta. Now Michael is relishing following in their footsteps on the UK tour, as well as getting comfy in slingbacks and a dress. And the actor has a fairly straightforward take on playing Edna. “Becoming a woman is just another role and probably easier than other roles I have played,” said Michael. “I find it harder to play characters close to myself. With someone as diverse as Edna
you can completely and utterly immerse yourself in the role and hid behind it. “There’s so much to draw on. All those great American female characters I grew up with in American TV. You name any American woman from the 1950s,1960s and 1970s – Edna is in there somewhere.” Michael, who also starred in Coronation Street, admits he was drawn to the role by the sheer challenge it presented him. “Edna is a great part and something totally different from anything I have ever done before,” he said. “It was a chance to change people’s perceptions of what I am. “A lot people think ‘you’ve been in soaps, you can only act in soaps and can’t do anything else’. “That’s a bit annoying at times so it’s great to have a chance to do something so different and its nice the producers had the faith in me to do it,” said Michael, who was trained for the theatre, as well as in singing. He knows the Aberdeen audiences will lap up Hairspray. “It is just a great show, it is a great night out, a great theatrical experience and appeals to all ages. It has everything in it, superb music, great spectacle, good characters and a nice story.” “Every night we get a standing ovation and you go home feeling like a million dollars.” That said, Hairspray also has an edge, dealing as it does with the dark days of the US civil rights struggle. “Is about segregation and integration of black and white kids,” said Michael. “That message runs right through the show, be it about fat people, disenfranchised people, but everyone joins in and it’s the music that gets them there. “That’s what we all have in common ... music and love.” During the UK tour, Michael has been alternating the role of Edna with Michael
Ball and Brian CHALLENGE: Michael said Hairspray also has a darker edge. Conley on different legs of the tour, so he has spent the last couple of weeks at home. “It’s nice to come back, get things sorted out and spend time with the family,” he said. “But sharing the role with Michael and Brian has been fun. We’ve even been on stage together as the three Ednas for Michael’s charity concert back in October.” But being involved in Hairspray hasn’t stopped him working on a project close to his own heart, his oneman show. “I hope to tour that at the end of the year,” he said. “I have some songs and stories and tales, it’s kind of An Audience With ...“ And Michael said he’d be keen to return to Aberdeen with his show – only this time without a dress.