On a night of jubilation for English football fans, there was ample cause for celebration in the West End, too. Theatre came roaring back with a bright and big-hearted musical, ecstatically received by the London Coliseum audience.As star Michael Ball pointed out in a post-show speech, we're not there yet: that audience was 1,000 instead of 3,000, with social distancing and capacity caps still in place. It was a smaller band, too, looking lonely in the cavernous pit. All of which exacerbated a...
"Hairspray is a great big hug of a show. With its catchy ‘60s songs and explosive dancing, it’s a joyful welcome back to musical theatre audiences." (LondonTheatre.co.uk)
Hairspray follows the story of Tracy Turnblad, an aspiring dancer who wins a part on a local TV show, The Corny Collins Show, and becomes an overnight sensation. The musical has somewhat of a tradition of casting newcomers in the lead role, such as in the case of Jones in London, but also in the film versions of the story - Ricki Lake made her film debut in the original 1988 movie.
Michael Ball reprised his role as Edna Turnblad at the London Coliseum. Ball starred in this record-setting production of Hairspray in the West End in 2010. Opening at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 11th October 2007, Ball played Edna Turnblad alongside a cast that included Tracie Bennett, Ben James-Ellis, Rachael Wooding, Leanne Jones. Hairspray received 11 Olivier Award nominations, which was a record for the time, and won awards for best musical, as well as best actor and actress in a musical (for Ball and Jones).
Although the Hairspray musical is not directly based on a true story, dance shows were common. In 1957, The Buddy Deane Show premiered in Baltimore, with white teenagers freely dancing to music and recreating dance moves. Segregation in the filming of the Buddy Deane Show was rife, with monthly nights allowing black church groups the opportunity to dance on air. In 1963, Baltimore teenagers staged an attack to integrate the races together.
The musical, with music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman, features well-known songs such as "Good Morning Baltimore", "Big, Blonde and Beautiful", "I Can Hear the Bells" and "You Can't Stop the Beat".
Hairspray in London
Following its world premiere on Broadway in 2002, Hairspray made its transfer over the Atlantic to the West End in 2007 when it opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre. Starring Michael Ball as Edna Turnblad, the production - directed by Jack O'Brien - also starred Mel Smith, Tracie Bennett and newcomer to the stage, Leanne Jones in the role of Tracy.
Hairspray was nominated for eleven Olivier Awards, which set a record at the time, and won the award for best musical, plus best actor and actress in a musical for Michael Ball and Leanne Jones. The show ran for over 1,000 performances during which time cast changes included Brian Conley, Phil Jupitus and Sharon D Clarke, before it closed on 28th March 2010.
Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman's score contains some of musical theatre's most uplifting tracks, none less than the opening number "Good Morning, Baltimore" and the show's closer "You Can't Stop The Beat". Other numbers include "I Can Hear the Bells", "(The Legend of) Miss Baltimore Crabs" and "I Know Where I've Been."
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Cast and creative
By: Mark O'Donnell, Thomas Meehan
Songs by: music by Marc Shaiman, with lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman
Director: Jack O'Brien
Cast list: Michael Ball, Marisha Wallace, Lizzie Bea, Rita Simons, Les Dennis, Jonny Amies, Georgia Anderson, Kimani Arthur, Dermot Canavan, Lori Haley Fox, Mari McGinlay, Ashley Samuels, Michael Vinsen, Imogen Bailey, Pearce Barron, Jordan Benjamin, Joel Cooper, Luke George, Christopher Gopaul, Bradley Judge, Winny Herbert, Lily Laight, Madeleine Lawton, Holly Liburd, Will Luckett, Mireia Mambo, Kody Mortimer, Robyn Rose, Tinovimbanashe Sibanda, Amy West, Natalie Woods, Gavin Alex Wood, Shakira Simpson, Dominic Sibanda, Charles Ruhrmund, Samuel Nicholas, Emma Louise Jones, Esme Laudat, Georgia Iudica-Davies, Alice Baker, Philip Catchpole, Chanel Edwards-Frederick and Michael Kent.
Design: David Rockwell
Costume: William Ivey Long
Choreography: Jerry Mitchell
Other info: Based on the film by John Waters
Latest Hairspray News & Features
Ahead of Hairspray opening in London next month, new principal casting has been announced. Les Dennis will now play Wilbur Turnblad in Hairspray, with performances at the London Coliseum from 21 June - 29 September.Dennis takes over the role from Paul Merton, who was previously scheduled to play Wilbur, but has had to pull out due to scheduling conflicts.Dennis returns to the stage, previously in a national tour of The Addams Family and two restoration plays at the Royal Shakespeare Company. In...
For a third rescheduling, new dates have been posted for Hairspray at the London Coliseum. The revival will now begin performances on 22 June — the day after theatres can open with no social distancing — to 29 September.The Hairspray company remains the same as previously billed, with Lizzie Bea making her West End debut as Tracy Turnblad. Michael Ball reprises his Olivier Award-winning turn as Edna Turnblad, with Marisha Wallace as Motormouth Maybelle, Les Dennis as Wilbur Turnblad, and Rita...
The highly-anticipated production of Hairspray starring Michael Ball in a return to his Olivier-winning role as Edna Turnblad has announced that it will now play at the London Coliseum from April 2021. The production was initially scheduled for September 2020 but has been postponed due to the COVID-19 government guidelines. The musical will now have its first preview on the 22 April 2021 and will run until 28 August 2021. "Just like Edna's famous roll-on foundation garments, it's been a struggle...
Tickets for the rescheduled dates of Hairspray at the London Coliseum are now on sale. Originally scheduled to begin a four-month engagement in April, the musical will receive its West End revival from 1st September for two months.The Hairspray company will remain the same as previously billed, including Michael Ball who reprises his 2007 Olivier Award-winning performance as Edna Turnblad. He's joined by West End newcomer Lizzie Bea as Tracy Turnblad, alongside Marisha Wallace as Motormouth...
The planned upcoming production of Hairspray at the London Coliseum, which was set to open at the theatre starring Michael Ball in April, will now play the venue from September.Starring cast members Ball, Paul Merton, Rita Simons, Marisha Wallace and Lizzie Bea who were all set to appear in the original run, the musical will now open on 8th September, with previews beginning on 1st September and the run ending on 8th November.Ticket holders will have the option to move their tickets as a...
Paul Merton is set to join Michael Ball in the upcoming West End revival of Hairspray at the London Coliseum, making his London musical debut.Merton will play Wilbur Turnblad, a joke shop owner whose daughter is vying for fame by entering a TV talent competition, and is married to Edna Turnblad, Ball's character.The musical opens on 23rd April, with casting also including Lizzie Bea and Marisha Wallace. Tickets are available now.Hairspray West End castPaul Merton joins Michael Ball, who...
Michael Ball will reprise his role as Edna Turnblad as Hairspray is set to return to London for a summer run at the London Coliseum next year.Ball appeared in the musical when it last ran in London, opening at the Shaftesbury Theatre from October 2007. He has since appeared in Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street, for which he won an Olivier award, and is set to appear in the all-star concert production of Les Miserables, opening at the Gielgud this summer.With music by Marc Shaiman and...