Berkhamsted actor stars in music phenomenon Hairspray

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An actor from Berkhamsted stars in international musical phenomenon Hairspray when it returns to Milton Keynes Theatre this week.

After breaking box office records and delighting audiences in the West-End, on Broadway and on the big screen since 1988, this smash hit musical-comedy is at last on the road again.

The show follows vivacious heroine Tracy Turnblad, who has big hair, a big heart, and big dreams to dance her way onto national TV, and into the heart of teen idol Link Larkin.

Alex Bourne (Edna) in HairsprayAlex Bourne (Edna) in Hairspray
Alex Bourne (Edna) in Hairspray

When Tracy becomes a local star, she is able to use her newfound fame to fight for liberation, tolerance, and interracial unity in Baltimore.

Starring as Tracy’s lovable mother, Edna Turnblad, is Berkhamsted-based Alex Bourne.

Alex has been a stalwart in the West End scene for many years performing in musical hits such as Annie, Mamma Mia and We Will Rock You.

Here he talks about all things Hairspray:

Alex Bourne (Edna) and Katie Brace (Tracy) in HairsprayAlex Bourne (Edna) and Katie Brace (Tracy) in Hairspray
Alex Bourne (Edna) and Katie Brace (Tracy) in Hairspray

How does it feel to be performing so close to your hometown in Berkhamsted?

I love Milton Keynes and especially the theatre. It’s so exciting to be a short train ride home and hopefully loads of friends will be able to see the show.

Are you looking forward to spending a week at home after touring around the country?

I’ve been so lucky as I recently commuted to Woking as well. You can’t beat waking up in your own bed, but I’ll have to do the school run!

Is there anywhere in the local area that you’ll be squeezing in a visit to during your time in Milton Keynes?

I love the centre:mk especially at Christmas, they always have a wonderful grotto.

What special memories does Berkhamsted hold for you?

I grew up in Cheltenham but have been in Berkhamsted for 17 years, so it totally feels like home. Berko is the best, it has everything!

When and where did your love for theatre begin?

I did am-dram with my mum as a kid and I used to go and see everything at the Everyman in Cheltenham and the Birmingham Hippodrome.

How has the Hairspray tour been so far?

We opened before restrictions were lifted, so it was a weird beginning - after being at home for 18 months. But it’s going very smoothly all things considered. It’s the perfect show to get people back in the theatre.

How does it feel to be performing again?

I thought it would be strange, but it’s like the last 18 months didn’t happen. Just feels normal.

Tell us a little bit about your character, Edna Turnblad.

She’s a mother to Tracy and a wife to Wilbur. She has just run her laundry business from home for many years and hasn’t really been out in the real world. She has become shy and reclusive - and loves her food! But Tracy decides to change all that and show her mother what she is missing.

What’s your favourite thing about playing her?

Performing the song “You’re Timeless To Me” with Norman Pace (who plays Wilbur).

Why should people come and see Hairspray?

[It’s] a brilliant story told by an extraordinary cast and one banging song after another. I have never seen a reaction like this to any show I’ve ever been in.

Alex and the Hairspray cast head to Milton Keynes Theatre tonight (Monday) until Saturday, December 4. Tickets for Hairspray are available from ATGTICKETS.COM/MiltonKeynes.