X FACTOR and musical theatre star Brenda Edwards (Chicago, We Will Rock You) has returned to the Hairspray cast for the latest UK tour as Motormouth Maybelle after beating cancer on a previous tour.

We find out what drew her back to the iconic role ahead of curtain up in Southampton next week.

Could you tell us about Motormouth Maybelle and what attracted you to the role?

"I remember watching the original film and then I went to see the Musical in 2007, on Broadway and 2008, in the West End, I really enjoyed the whole show, but was particularly excited by the Motormouth character. Having a son and daughter of my own, I could relate to her nurturing strong protective side where she has to be in charge and then there is the entertaining side, where she plays her music and has fun with everyone, whilst having that serious side lending an ear or a shoulder if needed, but she does have her own opinions on things and doesn’t mind voicing it. The songs she sings are just fabulous! She has a big personality just like me, so I think it’s a perfect role."

You did the previous tour of Hairspray, what drew you back?

"I wanted to come back on this tour production for the second time, because it really helped to get me through, what I was going through, when after the first half of the tour, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. The songs in the show are uplifting in so many different ways and performing in the show helped me not to focus on the chemotherapy. One of the songs that I sing and especially drew strength from, was I Know Where I Have Been, the words already had so much meaning to me, and throughout the rest of the tour helped me to stay positive and keep thinking of brighter days! So I guess to me it was very therapeutic and just what I needed.

How has it been being back in rehearsals?

"I obviously haven’t been doing much exercise over the last year I’m finding it a bit harder this time round to get up to speed, but the more we run it the easier it's becoming. It's s great – it’s so much fun and the energy! The energy levels are so high from the start, all the way through. From Good Morning Baltimore to You Can’t Stop the Beat there is just so much going on.

If anyone is not familiar with the show, how would you describe it in three words?

"Bigger, brighter and beautifuller! I love it!"

What’s your favourite moment or song in the show and why?

"I just love You Can’t Stop the Beat because it goes through so many different gear changes – In rehearsals its known as Beat 1 Beat 2 and Beat 3 and as I said I like the way it just brings us all together that’s the point where everybody is together and I think its brilliant!"

Hairspray is set in the 1960s, but if you could be born in any other decade which one would it be, and why?

"I love period dramas, especially the style and fashion tassles and beads etc. I am such a magpie because I love all the shiny things, sequins,beads and diamantes – that’s just me! So, that is the era I would love to be in. Fabulous costumes! Fabulous dresses! Fabulous headdresses!"

What inspired you to go into musical theatre?

"I was born and raised in the church. There were a lot of times when we never had microphones, so we had to project, and so I grew up singing in a lot of big spaces, I think in some way,

I’m drawn to them…. But it was Sharon who told me that she was approached by the Producers of Chicago the Musical when I was on X Factor in 2005,to come for an audition, so that was how I landed my first role in musical theatre, It’s such a pleasure, I feel so lucky to be able to perform in all these beautiful theatres. The first musical I saw was Thriller Live my friend and fellow X Factor team mate Maria, was in the show."

Hairspray was originally based on 1988 film by John Waters, if you could adapt any other film from the 1980s into a musical which one would it be?

"Coming to America, that’s a very funny film."

Can you tell us a bit about your experience on The X Factor? How did it prepare you for the industry?

"I really enjoyed the show, there were a lot of rehearsals before each Saturday night live show, so you always had to be on your game, it was exciting as well as challenging at the same , so it isn’t very different to the stage, the live shows were in front of a studio audience. I think it really did prepare me mentally for this industry."

Hairspray is at Mayflower Theatre from Monday to Saturday.

Tickets: 023 8071 1811 or mayflower.org.uk