Hit musical Hairspray has been celebrating as only it can this week, with a couple of reasons to be very happy. Michael Ball has extended his season as the larger-than-life Edna Turnblad and the show has sold its 500,000th ticket.
For those who have seen Ball’s fat-suit wearing performance as the plus-sized mother in Hairspray, the news that he is extending might be shocking, as he is fairly large already! Thankfully it is his time in the successful musical that has been elongated, rather than his waist size. Ball will continue to stun audiences with his portrayal of the generously proportioned mum of aspiring dance star Tracy Turnblad until 25 April 2009, making Hairspray the longest continuous contract that he has ever signed.
Speaking about his decision, Ball, one of the UK’s leading musical theatre performers, said: “I am so happy that the divine Mrs Edna Turnblad is going to continue to be a big part of my world for another six months. Hairspray has without doubt been one of the happiest and most fulfilling experiences of my professional life. And I am delighted to carry on being part of this phenomenon.”
Joining Ball in the cast from 27 October will be Liz Robertson, Zoe Rainey and Raquel Jones. Robertson replaces Laurence Olivier Award-winner Tracie Bennett as Velma Von Tussle. Laurence Olivier Award nominated for her performance in My Fair Lady, Robertson’s stage credits include A Little Night Music and The Phantom Of The Opera. Rainey replaces Rachel Wooding as Amber Von Tussle, while Jones plays Little Inez. Hairspray continues to star Leanne Jones, Ben James Ellis and Ian Talbot.
Hairspray producer Adam Spiegel commented: “I am absolutely delighted that Michael and many others in the cast have decided to stay with the production. Hairspray is the happiest show in London, both on stage and behind the scenes, and knowing we have Michael leading us into our second year is a dream come true. That he’s doing so in a dress is simply a bonus!”
Hairspray, the story of a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, opened at the Shaftesbury theatre in October 2007, enjoying both critical and public acclaim, and went on to win four Laurence Olivier Awards including Best Actor in a Musical for Ball and Best New Musical. Based on the John Waters film of the same name it tells a story set in 1962 Baltimore, where an unlikely schoolgirl sets her heart on becoming the star of a local television dance programme and winning the affection of heartthrob Link Larkin.
The celebrations continued at the Shaftesbury theatre on Thursday 4 September, when the 500,000th ticket for the London production was sold. The event was marked by the presentation of a framed commemorative ticket and a celebratory cake.