“Oh, I can’t wait to come home,” she said on the eve of rehearsals starting for a major UK tour which opens at The Lowry, Salford Quays, in September.
“There will be some familiar faces and some new faces, that’s the exciting part.”
The musical tells the story of Jamie New, a teenager who dreams of going to his high school prom in a dress and all the prejudice he has to overcome and the support he receives.
Hayley plays Miss Hedge the stern careers teacher who just doesn’t understand Jamie.
“I hate playing baddies,” said former Coronation Street and Emmerdale star Hayley. “But Miss Hedge isn’t really a baddie. She’s just a little uneducated around the subject. She doesn’t believe you can have a dream; you just have to knuckle down and do your work.
“It’s nice to have a twist in the tale which she has and it’s lovely that we get to follow her journey as well.
“But that’s the thing about this show. Although it’s Jamie New’s story we get to see the full arc of the story which is the mum and the dad, the teachers and the friends. There are so many different journeys to go on.”
The show has enjoyed sold out runs in the West End, on Broadway and on its first UK tour. This will be only the second time it has been to regional theatres and Hayley believes that much of its appeal is that it is so relevant.
“Whether it’s you or someone else, you will see a bit of somebody you know in this show,” said Hayley.
“It’s a safe space, you can be whoever you want to be in the audience and that is the moral of this story – we should be able to be who we want to be, our authentic selves in this life. We’re in 2023 and we’re still fighting battles for people to be who they want to be. Love is love at the end of the day, that’s it.
“There are lots of different elements to it. The main story of it is of love and hope and a kid who has a dream to go to the prom in a dress, well, why not?
“But the outcome of it is going to break people’s hearts. Honestly, it’s beautiful. I can’t wait for audiences to come and watch it, I really can’t. It gets me every time.
“There is so much laughter, the songs are incredible and everyone wants to get up and dance at the end. At a time when tickets are not cheap to go to the theatre because of the cost of living you want to know you are coming to see a good show and I can absolutely put my hand on my heart and tell you this up there with the cream of the crop of musicals.”
Coming back to the show as Hayley is, is she looking to do anything different with Miss Hedge this time round?
“Well I was pregnant when I did it first time round,” she laughed. “That’s the biggest change. I’ll be able to move around a lot more as I was four months pregnant when I left the show back then.”
Son Jasper is now three and being a single mum meant Hayley had to think hard about committing to a major touring production.
“I had to make sure I could go on tour and have help and make sure I could get home and spent time with him. Why shouldn’t I be able to work and have a child?” she said. “He’s only got me and I’ve got to go out and earn and pay the mortgage just like everyone else. The company have been superb at understanding the childcare situation; I can’t thank them enough.”
Hayley is clearly relishing the chance to take Jamie around the country.
“It’s so exciting, I can’t wait for the tour to begin,” she said. “I know that audiences will just have the best time.
“If we can help one person then we have done our job. In this show in the past we have had parents come thanking us for helping their children; we’ve had teenagers thanking us for giving them the space to be who they are and telling us that they are now going to be more like Jamie New. It’s those stories you want to hear.
“It’s a show that makes you feel happy, you feel love and you leave full of hope. Just thinking about it gives me goosebumps. That’s the glory of being on stage, the response. We work very hard on stage; it’s not an easy job and to get that response from people is beautiful, it’s very humbling.”
The production also stars West End star John Partridge as Hugo and his alter ego Loco Chanelle.
“We’ve known each other for ages,” said Hayley. “It’s his first time in the show but he’s such a pro. But this show’s all about the kids as we call them, they have such a huge task. But it’s such a fabulous show and for them the opportunity to be part of something so special is incredible.”
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, The Lowry, Salford Quays, Thursday, September 7 to Saturday, September 17. Details from www.thelowry.com