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X Factor Marcus lands a role to dye for; Talent show star makes the cut in musical smash Hairspray and tells how he can relate to the storyline about race and segregation in 1960s Baltimore.

Byline: RICK FULTON

The X Factor runner-up Marcus Collins calls his musical theatre debut in Hairspray "a dream job" - especially as he is playing a mixed race character.

The 24-year-old from Liverpool - who came second to Little Mix in the 2011 X Factor show - plays Seaweed Stubbs in the national tour of Hairspray, which comes to Glasgow's King's Theatre next month and the Edinburgh Playhouse in September.

Seaweed is a black dancer who mentors the young - and white - Tracy Turnblad in still-segregated 1962 Baltimore, Maryland.

Although he's never travelled to Baltimore and clearly wasn't around in the pre-Civil Rights era of this musical, Marcus can relate to the material.

He said: "I grew up as one of the few black kids in a predominantly white area of Liverpool, which was interesting. So this show really is an example of art imitating life, really - or life imitating art.

"My mum is white and my dad black and they met in the late 80s when interracial relationships were still just starting to be OK. A lot of my family were a little bit het up about it and didn't want controversy coming to their doors - they didn't need it.

"There were a lot of questions and eyebrows raised about it, so this felt like something I could really relate to."

Marcus, who has something of Prince about him, was seen on The X Factor as a star of the future.

Last year his debut single, a cover of The White Stripes' Seven Nation Army, went to number nine and his debut, self-titled, album went to number seven. But his follow-up single failed to chart.

But Marcus said: "To me, this feels like a dream job. When I get to perform and feed off the audience, knowing that I've got so many other people around me that I can interact with and feed off their energy, that to me is the new challenge that I've been wanting."

Hairspray marks Marcus's musical theatre debut and he claims it was actress Jodie Prenger who sent him a tweet saying she could get him a job. The Hairspray producers got in touch with Marcus's management and he auditioned and won the role in the tour, which stars Waterloo Road actor Mark Benton as Edna Turnblad and ex-EastEnders star Lucy Benjamin as Velma Von Tussle. Freya Sutton plays Tracy Turnblad.

Based on a 1988 comedy film by John Waters, it was turned into a musical in 2002 and was even made into a film starring John Travolta as Edna in 2007.

It focuses on Tracy, who wins a spot on local telly dance show The Corny Collins Show and is then turned into a teen star.

Marcus said: "This hit the nail right on the head and was just what I wanted. I'd been thinking while I was performing to all the cameras [on X Factor] that this is all well and good, but I wanted to learn something else.

"I was ready for a new challenge and I feel already as if I'm starting to develop a lot more in my dancing and my acting."

Hairspray is at the Glasgow King's Theatre from May 7-18. It comes back to Scotland from September 3-14 at the Edinburgh Playhouse.

CAPTION(S):

DREAM COME TRUE... Marcus makes his theatre debut in the role of Seaweed Stubbs LAUGHS... Mark Benton dons a wig to play Edna Turnblad

AMBITIOUS... Freya Sutton plays Tracy Turnblad

VILLAIN... Lucy Benjamin as Velma Von Tussle
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:1U5MD
Date:Apr 21, 2013
Words:580
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