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West End Operatic Society cast have a firm hold on the musical classic Hairspray

The West End Operatic Society are bringing the spirit of the sixties (and a whole load of Elnette) to stage in Newcastle this month.

The cast of West End Operatic Society's Hairspray
The cast of West End Operatic Society's Hairspray
Optimism was a key feature of the sixties. As was kick-bottom music.

Members of The West End Operatic Society are planning to bring both of the above to the stage in bucketloads later in April - courtesy of its production of the multi-Tony-Award-winning musical classic, Hairspray and the two ladies sharing the lead role.

Not only did Aniella Lucia and Melissa Cavanagh fight off tremendous competition from an high standard of auditionees for the coveted role of Tracy Turnblad, but each of them has much to celebrate in their personal lives.

Twenty-one-year-old Aniella is studying for her Foundation Degree in Musical Theatre at Newcastle College and has been offered a place at the acclaimed American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, whose alumni include Anne Hathaway, Kim Cattrall, Paul Rudd and Adrian Brody.

Following her audition, Aniella has been offered a scholarship and will be moving to New York in September.

Meanwhile at 24, Melissa Cavanagh, with whom Aniella shares the role, is currently planning a party with family and friends to celebrate a decade of being free from cancer.

Having been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma when she was 13, Melissa says beating it has given her a zest for life which has seen her throw herself into performing arts. She has dreams of performing on a West End stage, but is thrilled to have been given the leading role by the West End Operatic Society.

She says: “Now I’ve reached the 10 year mark, it’s even more significant as when you reach that stage it means the cancer is very unlikely to return.”

“I remember sitting on the ward one day after treatment and thinking ‘If I make it this far I’m going to have a huge celebration’,

“Ever since I saw the film of Hairspray in 2007 I’ve wanted to play the role where you have to be a bigger girl to play her, it’s a dream role.”

As fans of the musical will be only too aware, Hairspray’s toe tapping 60s pop score makes it pretty impossible to leave the theatre without a smile on your face.

Packed with humour and a story of love, respect and acceptance, the dancefloor action is set in early 60s Baltimore where change is in the air.

Loveable plus size heroine, Tracy Turnblad, has a passion for dancing and wins a spot on the local TV dance programme, The Corny Collins show. Overnight she finds herself transformed from outsider to a singing and dancing teen celebrity, but will it be enough to topple Corny’s reigning dance queen?

Aside from Aniella and Melissa, the cast includes Andrew Fearon, playing Edna Turnblad, Paul Outterside as Wilbur Turnblad and Jamie Howes as Link Larkin.

The Society are delighted to be the first company in Newcastle to be performing Hairspray and also the first company to be performing a week-long run at the Tyne Theatre since its recent change in management.

* Hairspray will run at the Tyne Theatre from April 13–18. For tickets call 0844 2491 000 or visit www.tynetheatreandoperahouse.uk . To take advantage of the Easter Special Family Ticket Offer: one adult and two children for £21 (Thursday matinee 2pm performance only), quote ‘Family’ when making the booking in person at the theatre box office, or email tickets@westendoperaticsociety.com. Tickets for Tuesday and Wednesday evening performances can be bought in person or over the phone on a buy one get one free basis.

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