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Paul Merton to make West End musical debut in Hairspray with full casting announced

The Have I Got News For You? panellist is coming to the Coliseum

Rita Simons, Paul Merton and Ashley Samuels
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Paul Merton will join the West End cast of Hairspray at the Coliseum, it has been revealed.

Merton will take on the role of Wilbur Turnblad opposite Michael Ball as Edna in the new revival of the hit show, which opens in April. He will be making his West End musical debut in the piece – the Comedy Store Players founder has other credits including Just A Minute, as well as being an institution of a panellist on Have I Got News for You? on the BBC.

Also appearing in the show will be Rita Simons (EastEnders) as Velma von Tussle and Jonny Amies (Sex Education) as Link Larkin.

The full company includes Georgia Anderson (Amber von Tussle), Kimani Arthur (Little Inez), Dermot Canavan (Wilbur), Lori Haley Fox, Mari McGinlay, Ashley Samuels, Michael Vinsen and Imogen Bailey (Shelly), Pearce Barron, Jordan Benjamin, Nicholas Collier, Joel Cooper, Luke George, Christopher Gopaul, Winny Herbert, Chris Howell, Lily Laight, Hannah Grace Lawson, Madeleine Lawton, Holly Liburd, Will Luckett, Mireia Mambo, Kody Mortimer, Robyn Rose, Tinovimbanashe Sibanda, Kibong Tanji, Amy West and Natalie Woods.

Also appearing in the piece will be Lizzie Bea as Tracy Turnblad and Marisha Wallace as Motormouth Maybelle.

Hairspray the Musical will play until 30 August, with a press night on 29 April. The show is based on the 1988 film of the same name, which starred Divine and Ricki Lake. It originally opened in 2002 on Broadway and won eight Tony Awards, with songs such as "You Can't Stop the Beat", "Big, Blonde and Beautiful" and "Good Morning Baltimore". The original London production in 2008 won four Olivier Awards.

Jack O'Brien will direct, with book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan, music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman, choreography by Jerry Mitchell, costumes by William Ivey Long, set by David Rockwell and casting by Jill Green. Further casting is to be announced.