Interview with Tony Maudsley about his role in the musical Hairspray
YOU MAY RECOGNIZE TONY MAUDSLEY AS THE SUPER TANNED, SUPER CAMP HAIRDRESSER KENNETH DU BEKE IN THE HIT TV SERIES BENIDORM, AND YOU’LL SOON SEE MUCH MORE OF HIS HIGH CAMP ANTICS AS HE TAKES ON THE INFAMOUS ROLE OF EDNA TURNBLAD IN THE CURVE THEATRE’S PRODUCTION OF HAIRSPRAY, COMING TO BIRMINGHAM’S NEW ALEXANDRA THEATRE THIS WINTER. WITH AN ALL STAR CAST INCLUDING CLAIRE SWEENEY, PETER DUNCAN AND BRENDA EDWARDS, TONY IS IN GOOD COMPANY BUT HE’S NO ONE TRICK PONY; DLUXE BIRMINGHAM & SOLIHULL’S SARAH POTTER CAUGHT UP WITH HIM TO TALK ABOUT MOVING FROM HAIRDRESSER TO HAIRSPRAY, AS WELL AS HIS IMPRESSIVE CAREER STARRING IN FILMS WITH THE LIKES OF REESE WITHERSPOON, JOHNNY DEPP AND THE HARRY POTTER CAST.
I suppose first thing’s first, let’s start from the beginning. How did you get into acting?
Ok well I’m originally from Liverpool, and I actually got into acting by default really. I got into trouble at school and the alternative to detention was attending drama lessons. Naturally I chose the lessons and as it turns out the teacher was really great. They also ran an after school children’s drama school which I decided to attend and from that I just got the acting bug and carried on.
Well you were obviously a natural as you’ve been in some pretty huge blockbuster films including Harry Potter where you played Hagrid’s half-brother Grawp. How did that come about?
It came about quite specifically. I was in a film called Vanity Fair with Reese Witherspoon. I played her suitor, Joseph “Jos” Sedley. He was quite a soulful character, very warm and likeable, a little
misunderstood and a little strange looking, I suppose. The Director of Harry Potter had expressed that this was exactly the essence and soul of what he wanted for Grawp. I worked with him for a few weeks on getting into character and he offered me the role. I was honoured to be a part of Harry Potter, even if it’s a small character.
Speaking of characters, who’s been your favourite character that you’ve played so far. Overall?
I think I’ve got to say Kenneth in Benidorm. It’s still ongoing and I’m still loving it. It really is a gift of a part and I get the best lines! I get to say everything as Kenneth that I wouldn’t be able to say in real life.
So how did the role of Kenneth come about?
Benidorm was actually just a normal run of the mill audition. I had originally auditioned for Steve Pemberton’s role, the Dad Mick, but wasn’t successful. Three years later they asked me if I’d like to audition for the new gay hairdresser they were introducing and I jumped at the chance. I was actually in the middle of a classical play in East London when they held the auditions. I dashed across in my lunch hour feeling very hot and sweaty having ran out of the tube. In fact I think I did most of the audition pulling at my collar and fanning myself and I had to rush off afterwards too!
It sounds like it was a bit of a hectic time.
It was! Funnily enough when I went to the audition, the
people who were there to play Kenneth were all very small and skinny; he was going to be very wiry I think.
Really? I couldn’t imagine Kenneth like that now!
Yes, and there’s me, who was the opposite of everyone there. I think they obviously decided to change him after that. And that’s how I got the part.
So, how have you been preparing for the role?
Well I’ve been going to the gym a fair bit to lose a few
pounds. The choreographer, who’s fantastic, really pushes people to get the most out of it, so I want to make sure I’m ready physically. There’s obviously a lot of movement and dancing, so I think the gym will help.
Give us the lowdown on the Hairspray story.
Hairspray is the irresistible feel-good show that is guaranteed to have you dancing the night away. Welcome to the 60’s where Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, is on a mission to follow her dreams. You Can’t Stop The Beat as she sets out to dance her way onto national TV with The Nicest Kids In Town. Tracy’s audition makes her
a local star and soon she is using her new-found fame to fight for equality, bagging local heartthrob Link Larkin along the way!
The role of Edna Turnblad, Tracy’s mother, was made famous by Divine and John Travolta on film and Harvey Fierstein and Michael Ball on stage.
You’re stepping into some big shoes with Edna. What can we expect from your interpretation?
I’m going to bring my own Edna. It’s Edna 2015. We’re changing the mould with new choreography, new costumes, makeup, everything. So I think for the fans it will be nice to see an updated version of the characters too. It’s a really exciting time for Hairspray.
Well we’re really looking forward to seeing you in it, it sounds all very exciting, and you’ve got a great cast.
We definitely have! We’ve got Peter Duncan as Edna’s husband, Freya Sutton as Edna’s daughter Tracy, Claire Sweeney as Velma Von Tussle and Brenda Edwards as Motormouth
Who would you say has been your most favourite person to work with throughout your career?
That’s easy. Julie Walters. I’ve been really lucky to work with Julie. Apart from being such a great actress, she’s a great person to learn from. She makes people feel comfortable and
I did learn a lot working with her. I watched her and thought that’s how I want to be. She’s just a really nice, wonderful, unassuming woman.
And who would you say inspires you, acting-wise?
Inspires me? Oh god I don’t know! I’ve been asked
that before and I didn’t know… Probably Julie. Obviously she’s a woman and I’m a man, but she does inspire me.
And a little cliché, but an interesting question. If you could invite 3 people, dead or alive to a dinner party you were holding, who would you invite?
Haha we sense a trend here!
Ha yes, Julie for the fun element . Harvey Fierstein. He’s the only Edna I saw in Hairspray, so it’d be great to grill him on the role. ‘Harvey, how can I win a Tony Award’ haha. And my Nan. She died when I was fifteen so it would be so nice to show her what’s happened since.
So finally, what’s next for Tony Maudsley?
Benidorm and more Kenneth. We haven’t officially been commissioned yet, but I’m not quite ready to hang up my hotpants!
Hairspray is at The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham from the 14th December 2015 – 2nd Jan2016. To book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com or call 0844 871 3011