Belfast has a special place in the heart of X Factor and West End star Brenda Edwards so it is no surprise that she is thrilled to be back in the city next week when the cast of Hairspray take to the stage of the Grand Opera House.
Brenda, who is renowned for her powerful voice, got her big break on the smash hit TV show X Factor in 2005. And her journey started in Belfast. “I auditioned for X Factor in Belfast,” she explained. “I was over with my husband and he heard they were holding auditions in the hotel and put me forward for it. The rest, as they say is history.”
Brenda has also performed as a solo artist in Belfast but she is delighted to be returning to spend more time in Northern Ireland with the cast of the touring musical Hairspray,
Set in Baltimore in 1962 the show tells the story of Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger dream: to dance her way onto national TV, and into the heart of teen idol Link Larkin. And along the way she turns to Motormouth Maybelle, played by Brenda, to help in her quest to fight segregation in her hometown,
Brenda is no stranger to the role of Motormouth Maybelle, having previously toured with the show last year and it is clearly a character that she relishes playing. “This is my second time around in Hairspray and I was very glad to be asked to do it again,” she reveals. “It is such an amazing role. The show is fun, fun, fun from start to finish.”
Motormouth Maybelle is known in the show as being a formidable force of nature. And that strength is something to which Brenda can really relate. “When I played the role before, I was going through chemotherapy for breast cancer and the show really helped me to get through that,” she explained. “Now I am glad to say everything is fine, I have fought and beaten it and I am even stronger in the role this time. Motormouth is a strong woman and I can totally relate to her as a character. I like to see myself as a strong minded businesswoman that people can come to for help.”
The show has a strong message against segregation in the United States, something that Brenda feels is just as relevant today as it was in the 1960s. But it is also a fun, lively, colourful show that she is sure will have the Belfast crowd singing and dancing along. The show runs from Monday, October 30 until Saturday, November 4. Tickets are on sale now from the Grand Opera House Box Office.