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WOS TV: London Hairspray Premieres at Shaftesbury

By • West End
Five years after it opened on Broadway, Hairspray - the story of a big girl with big hair - received its West End premiere at the Shaftesbury Theatre last night (30 October 2007, previews from 11 October), where its currently booking until 15 March 2008. The cast is headlined by Michael Ball (Edna), Mel Smith (Wilbur) and Leanne Jones (Tracy).

The musical opened on Broadway in August 2002 at the Neil Simon Theater, where it’s still running, and went on to win eight 2003 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Based on John Waters' cult retro 1988 film and set in 1960s Baltimore, it follows a girl called Tracy, who finds celebrity on a TV dance programme. Can she get the guy and still have time to change the world?

TO VIEW THE HAIRSPRAY FIRST NIGHT TV FOOTAGE, JUST CLICK ON THE "PLAY" ARROW > BUTTON TO THE LEFT OF THE TV SCREEN BELOW.

Joining Ball, Smith and Jones in the cast of the London stage production are Tracie Bennett, best known to TV fans from Coronation Street, who will play the role of vicious Velma Von Tussle, Rachel Wooding (Amber Von Tussle), Paul Manuel (host Corny Collins), Adrian Hansel (Seaweed), Johnnie Fiori (Motormouth Mabel) and Any Dream Will Do’s Ben Ellis (Link Larkin).

For Whatsonstage.com TV, we were on hand for the Hairspray first night at the Shaftesbury Theatre. Amongst our TV interviewees are cast members Michael Ball, Ben James-Ellis, Leanne Jones and Mel Smith, as well as Judi Dench, Lesley Garett, Cilla Black, Arlene Phillips and writer and director of the original film, John Waters.

The musical has a book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan, with music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Scott Whitman and Shaiman. It’s directed by Jack O'Brien and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell. The 2007 film of the musical, starring John Travolta as Edna is due for release on DVD this year.

- by Tom Atkins


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