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Jupitus joins Hairspray with Carlisle and Clarke

First Published 2 September 2009, Last Updated 2 September 2009

Comedian Phill Jupitus, pop star Belinda Carlisle and West End regular Sharon D Clarke are to join the cast of hit musical Hairspray this October.

Jupitus replaces Brian Conley as larger than life leading lady Edna Turnblad from 26 October, with Carlisle joining the company as the glamorous but malevolent Velma von Tussle and Clarke playing Motormouth Mabel. Tony Timberlake also replaces Nigel Planer as Wilbur Turnblad, with former Grease lead Nicola Brazil joining the cast as Amber Von Tussle and Gavin Alex playing Corny Collins. Chloe Hart, Verity Rushworth, Liam Tamne, Adrian Hansel and Raquel Jones all continue in the show.

Comedian and broadcaster Jupitus, a regular on TV panel shows such as Never Mind The Buzzcocks and QI, will become the third actor to drag up to play the big-hearted mother in the West End, following current cast member Conley and original Edna Michael Ball, who won a Laurence Olivier Award for his performance. Though he is not a regular on the musical theatre circuit, Jupitus is not making his West End debut; the comedian appeared in Lifecoach at the Trafalgar Studio 2 in 2008.

Carlisle, whose hits include Heaven Is A Place On Earth, Leave A Light On For Me and We Want The Same Thing, makes her West End debut in Hairspray. As a singer she found fame in the 80s, first with all-girl New Wave band The Go-Gos and then as a solo artist, recording six studio albums between 1986 and 1996. More recently she has appeared in reality television shows Hell’s Kitchen and Dancing With The Stars, and toured with 80s artists including T’Pau, Bananarama, The Human League and ABC.

Clarke is a veteran of musicals including Chicago, We Will Rock You, Guys And Dolls and The Lion King who spent three years playing Dr Lola Griffin in BBC hospital drama Holby City and also appeared as a judge on the BBC talent show Last Choir Standing.

Hairspray opened at the Shaftesbury theatre in October 2007. The story of plus-sized Baltimore teenager Tracy Turnblad, who becomes an overnight celebrity when she wins a spot on a local TV dance programme, went on to win four Laurence Olivier Awards the following year, including Best Actor in a Musical, Best Actress in a Musical, Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical and Best New Musical. It is currently booking until October 2010.

From 8 November, Hairspray will alter its performance schedule, playing Tuesday to Saturday at 19:30 with matinees on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 15:00.

MA

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