New stage partner is comedy gold for Norman
He's best known as one half of TV comedy double act Hale and Pace, but Norman Pace is about to bring the laughs to a new production of Hairspray.
The musical follows 1960s teen Tracy Turnblad – the girl with big hair and an even bigger heart – as she dreams of dancing on national TV, and Norman joins the cast as her dad Wilbur as it heads to Blackpool next month.
“I’m not going to be false about it, and I’m just the comedy turn, but it’s really, really exciting,” he said of rehearsals so far. “There’s 28 of us on the stage, so we’ll make a bit of a racket, but you need that many people to make the show work.”
As Wilbur, Norman has the challenge of his romantic lead, wife Edna, being played by a man. “We’re an unusual family,” he said. “And Matt [Rixon, playing Edna] is 6ft 5ins, nearly 7ft in heels and wig, and I’m 5ft 7ins. It’s comedy gold.”
Norman’s recently been reunited with his long-time comic partner Gareth Hale for the new series of ITV sitcom Benidorm.
“We filmed in the spring and early summer for 10 weeks, to appear in four episodes,” he said. “We were getting paid to be in the sunshine. The best days were the ones when the call sheet had you round the swimming pool in the background – but no lines. You just sat around being pampered. All the cast at the read-through said it’s the best job you’ll ever have, and I think they were right.
“And working with Gareth was like pulling on an old, faithful slipper. It was five years since we’d worked together, but it was just back to normal within an hour, doing what we had done for 40 years together.”
• Hairspray, Opera House, Blackpool, Monday to Saturday, September 18 to 23. Tickets cost from £17.50.