It was an emotional farewell for principals Michael Ball, Leanne Jones and Ben James Ellis on Saturday night (25 July 2009) as they waved goodbye to Hairspray at the Shaftesbury Theatre after nearly two years with the show.

From tonight, Brian Conley is stepping into the 'Ball gown' as Edna Turnblad (See News, 15 Apr 2009), while Chloe Hart and Liam Tamne are taking over as, respectively, heroine Tracy Turnblad and heartthrob Link Larkin. Nigel Planer and Verity Rushworth continue in the roles of Wilbur Turnblad and Penny Pingleton.

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PHOTOS BY DAN WOOLLER FOR WHATSONSTAGE.COM.

Hairspray premiered in August 2002 on Broadway, going on to win eight 2003 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Based on John Waters' cult retro 1988 film and set in 1960s Baltimore, it tells the story of geeky overweight teen Tracy Turnblad, who finds celebrity on a TV dance programme. Can she get the guy and still have time to change the world?


Elsewhere in Theatreland, the cast of Sister Act were at HMV on Oxford Street today (27 July) to mark the launch of the original cast recording. Patina Miller, who plays Deloris in the screen-to-stage musical, was in fine voice as she led an energetic rendition of several numbers from the show.

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PHOTOS BY DAN WOOLLER FOR WHATSONSTAGE.COM.