"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