I managed to grab a few minutes with the former Eastenders star Lucy Benjamin to talk to her about taking on one of the lead roles, Velma Von Tussle, in the UK tour of Hairspray:
So Lucy, you are getting ready for the Salford run of the tour-what do you think of the Quays?
I came to Salford Quays back in Sept/Oct last year for the press launch at The Lowry for Hairspray. I was so impressed with Media City and I’m blown away with how modern it is and it’s fab facilities.
Now you are playing the role of the ultimate ‘pushy Mother’ Velma, how are you finding it?
I love it-Velma is fabulous to play. She’s totally revolting as a person with how she refuses to change with how the world is going. To play a role like that is just great though, she’s vamp, camp and brilliantly witty!
There’s lots of dance numbers in Hairspray –is it an intense show to work on?
The choreography is unbelievable in this show and Jerry Mitchell (choreographer) does a fantastic job. I look at the younger members of the cast and think how amazing they are. I’m lucky that my character just dips in and dips out which is good as I don’t think I could cope with so many routines.
What’s it like playing alongside Mark Benton-do you find it hard to keep a straight face?
God yes! Just yesterday at the tech run we were all flagging as it was 10pm at night and we had been rehearsing all day- but Mark just came onstage delivered one of his lines and we all just burst out laughing. His take on Edna is brilliant, it’s totally new to Mark a role like this and even though it’s out of his comfort zone he’s taken to it like a natural.
Of course you weren’t around in the 60’s Lucy but what’s it like working on a show set in that era?
The 60’s was such a glamorous era-what I love about it is the girls back then wore some amazing outfits and made such an effort over their appearance. The 60’s had a real community feel about it and it’s great to experience it in some kind of way. It was a time when women were able to indulge in getting ready for a night out -nowadays we don’t tend to have that luxury.
What do you prefer stage or TV?
Both are very different. I guess I have to say the one thing I don’t enjoy about theatre is the nerves at the beginning of a run-that churning in your stomach before you go on. Of course once you start the show the adrenaline starts running and it’s the best feeling ever especially when you get the immediate audience reaction. TV for me though is a safer place. I was in Eastenders for so long I didn’t get the nerves as it becomes a routine – every day you are in front of a camera you just become comfortable.
So what’s next for Lucy?
I’m with the Hairspray tour until September and then I’ll start thinking about what is next for me in August. What I can guarantee is there will be a holiday on the cards and lots of quality time spent with my family.