Tony Maudsley talks donning drag for Hairspray
Wig-out with the evergreen musical’s new Edna Turnblad
The successful juggernaut that is, Hairspray continues to roll. A wickedly funny look at acceptance (particularly with regards to body fascism), the spaces occupied by women, and race relations in 60s Baltimore, it’s been a worldwide phenomenon since John Waters’ original film appeared in 1988. Heading the cast is Tony Maudsley, star of ITV’s Benidorm, as the put-upon but loveable Edna Turnblad, the show’s matriarch, who comes to terms with her daughter Tracy becoming a TV star.
‘I’d seen the original Broadway version about 14 years earlier and had really enjoyed it,’ says Maudsley. ‘I’ve reignited some of my old skills and learned some new ones from the massively talented cast [including Claire Sweeney as Velma Von Tussle; Peter Duncan as Wilbur and Brenda Edwards as Motormouth Maybelle] and highly experienced team.’
The show has presented many challenges for him, not least dressing in drag. The change in physicality yielded unexpected results. ‘Although I’m a big guy of six feet four and about 20 stone, to get to the underlying themes of the show, Edna needs to be bigger, exaggerated and larger-than-life. We achieved this with a body suit. The results are very effective. My own gait was transformed. I instantly felt very maternal and protective toward Tracy.’ And that is the key essence of the show: a big warm embrace.