Michael Ball, currently playing Edna Turnblad in Hairspray, has extended his stay in the hit musical by six months, until 25 October 2008.
In Hairspray, Ball dons a dress to play the oversized mother of Tracy Turnblad (Leanne Jones), a big girl with a big heart who just wants to dance. Based on the original film by John Waters, the story charts Tracy’s attempts to follow her dreams and dance on Baltimore television dance show The Corny Collins Show. In doing so, she challenges sizeist and racist attitudes of the time, and proves that anyone should be able to dance if they want too – even her mum.
Musical theatre veteran Ball and newcomer Jones star alongside Mel Smith as Wilbur Turnblad, Ben James Ellis as Tracy’s love interest Link Larkin, Tracie Bennett as Velma Von Tussle and Johnnie Fiori as Motormouth Maybelle.
The show opened at the Shaftesbury in October and won Best Musical in last month’s Evening Standard Theatre Awards.
In other news, long-running ABBA musical Mamma Mia! has extended its booking period to 25 April 2009. In doing so, the musical shows its intention to celebrate a decade in the West End, as it opened at the Prince Edward on 6 April 1999. It transferred to its current home, the Prince of Wales, in 2004.
Set to the music of Swedish supergroup ABBA, Catherine Johnson’s musical tells the story of a young woman and her mother who find themselves involved in past events on the eve of the daughter’s wedding day. A new film of the musical, starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan and directed by the stage show’s director, Phyllida Lloyd, is to be released in 2008. em>CB