We caught up with Rebecca Mendoza as she lands her dream role in the UK tour of Hairspray
Rebecca Mendoza walked straight out of drama school and straight into playing her dream role as leading lady Tracy Turnblad in the new UK tour of Hairspray, coming to Birmingham’s Hippodrome from 9-14 October and Leicester’s Curve from 16- 21 October.
We caught up with Rebecca to find out more about her and the show.
How did it feel finding out that you’ve landed your dream part?
Hairspray was the first musical score that I brought, the first thing I ever started to sing when I was getting into musicals. It’s funny because on our first opening night, I looked on my Facebook timehop and it told me that 7 years ago on that exact day, I had gone to see Hairspray in Liverpool with my sister and my friends, and actually put a status on Facebook saying “This show is incredible, I hope to be part of this show one day.”
Hairspray started as a cult film, then became a Broadway hit (winning 8 Tony awards) and opened in the West End, now the musical is touring the UK – what do you think is its enduring appeal?
It is such a feel-good show, it tells the story through such fun and the music and lyrics are incredible. But of course every scene in the show is still so relevant to society right now and it’s great for parents to educate their children on the way that the world was and the way that the world still is. The core message is that just because you’re different, whether it’s race, sexuality or anything, in our society now I think this message rings so loud and true to everybody and it is so important that especially the younger generation learn that it’s not okay to discriminate against anybody because they’re different.
Tracy is such an iconic character, how did you approach the role and make it your own?
Thankfully because I was a mega-fan, I already knew all the songs, but the script was a bit scary for me because I basically don’t leave the stage in act one, and I only have a five/ten minute break in Act Two.
I took inspiration from Ricky Lake and Shoshana Bean, but I didn’t want to just regurgitate the Tracy’s that have already been before, I just wanted to put a bit of Rebecca into it. I love comedy, so I try to be as truthful as possible and just use what comes naturally to me.
I have been in a position that Tracey has been in when I was auditioning for theatre schools, I auditioned for three years. A lot of the schools told me “you’re too big” and “you’re not the right size” and I had those knockbacks again and again and again, and I didn’t give up, I feel like I can use that when playing Tracy because she kept getting knockbacks until somebody finally accepted who she really is.
Do you have a favourite musical number in the show?
There are so many incredible numbers but I think I Can Hear The Bells because there is a lot of comedy in it and I can play around a lot and the audience react differently every night. Of course You Can’t Stop The Beat at the end just sends shivers down my whole spine, the buzz of that song is absolutely incredible.
Are you excited to be going on tour across the whole of the UK, and of course visiting Birmingham?
I can’t wait to see all the cool places and explore each city. I am so excited to come to Birmingham, it will be a completely brand new experience for me and I’ve never been to the Birmingham Hippodrome, I’ve heard it is beautiful so I just can’t wait.