Monkees.Net - The #1 Monkees Web Site Since 1994 !

Mickey’s big show has big hair and a big heart

April 3, 2011 by  
Filed under news feed

You can’t stop the beat as Monkee Mickey Dolenz takes to the stage as Wilbur Turnblad in Hairspray, writes Colene McKessick

THERE aren’t many parts where men are willing to dress up in drag, but the role of Edna Turnblad in Hairspray is hotly contested.

Former “Ednas” have included Michael Ball, John Travolta and Brian Connolly.

However the prospect of donning a fat suit, wig and size-12 heels wasn’t enough to persuade Monkees star Mickey Dolenz, who appears as Edna’s long-suffering husband, Wilbur, in the musical, which is currently on stage at HM Theatre, Aberdeen.

“A couple of years ago, my agent in England called because the Hairspray team wanted to see me for the part of Edna. I couldn’t do it because I was on tour, but to be honest I didn’t quite see myself in the fat suit and heels,” said Mickey, 66.

“There were a few things at that point that I’d been asked to do in the UK, including the Rocky Horror Show, but I wasn’t able to come over to Britain at that point.

“Then last year, they called and said they wanted to see me for Wilbur and I thought: ‘Ok, that’s more me.’

“I nailed the audition, got the part, and I opened in the west end last year. I did it for a couple of months, and now here I am on the national tour.”

Although most people will be familiar with Mickey due to his role on the TV show, and formerly the band, The Monkees, the performer has had a long theatre career in the years since the show ended. In the US, Mickey starred in Pippin’, Grease and A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To the Forum.

In the early 1980s, he directed a stage version of Alan Parker’s Bugsy Malone in the west end, the cast of which included a then unknown 14-year-old Catherine Zeta-Jones.

He was on Broadway when the first production of Hairspray opened.

“I’m quite familiar with the original film starring Rikki Lake. I went to the premiere in Los Angeles, and I certainly remember when it opened on Broadway, because I was doing the Elton John and Tim Rice production of Aida on Broadway at the same time,” he said.

“I went to see Hairspray with the original cast, and I loved it. I thought it was fantastic.”

With an original score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, Hairspray is set in 1962, when Baltimore’s Tracy Turnblad – a big girl with big hair, a big heart, and a big passion for dancing – wins a spot on a local TV dance programme.

Overnight, she is transformed from outsider to irrepressible teen celebrity – but can a dance and fashion trendsetter vanquish the programme’s reigning princess, win the heart of heart-throb Link Larkin and integrate a television show without denting her ’do?

Joining Mickey in one of the unlikeliest partnerships in theatre, as his wife, Edna, is Michael Starke, famed for starring in two hugely popular TV soaps – as Sinbad in Brookside for 16 years and as kebab shop owner Jerry Morton in Coronation Street.

“It’s a great cast, really wonderful. And of course the show is great and we’re just about sold out everywhere, which helps,” said Mickey.

“I’ve lost count of the number of venues I’ve done. I’ve been doing it since November, and every two weeks we move; you do the math. The travelling part I’m not crazy about, it kind of wears you out, but that comes with the territory.”

Having been in the music industry at the time of Hairspray’s setting, Mickey said the music was a huge draw for him, having auditioned for the Monkees with a rendition of Johnny B. Goode.

“The music is fantastic. I was a teenager during that period, and there was a local dance show on in LA, I remember it was called Lloyd Baxter’s Dance hour, and every city at the time had a local show, just like in Hairspray, so I’m quite familiar with the music, and that whole era,” he said.

“Mind you, it’s never one thing in a show or movie that makes it great. I don’t think you can reduce the success of a show down to one element; it’s always a combination.

“You put together a great story, music, cast, direction and choreography and at some point the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. You can’t take it apart: the music in any musical has a very important role to play, but so does the story, the theme, the performances. With a show like Hairspray, every single bit is great: the original story is great, the music is fantastic, and it’s kind of hard to mess it up.”

Hairspray is one of a number of huge musicals which will appear at HM Theatre this year, and caused a buzz in the city when it was announced. With the original film released in 1988, music from the 50s, and countless tours, it’s easy to see why the show appeals to all.

“It’s a huge show, there’s no doubt about that,” said Mickey.

via Mickey’s big show has big hair and a big heart – Press & Journal.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

You must be logged in to post a comment.