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

Evening Express (City Final) - The Guide - - ARTS AND STAGE - By Lau­rna Robert­son

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 Ednayou 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 MichaelBall 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.


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