Talbot Is New Wilbur in London Hairspray

News   Talbot Is New Wilbur in London Hairspray Ian Talbot, who last year stepped down as artistic director of the Open Air Theatre Regent's Park, will take on the role of Wilbur Turnblad in the London production of Hairspray.

Talbot will succeed Mel Smith Jan. 28 and will join current stars Michael Ball, who plays the cross-dressing role of Edna Turnblad; Leanne Jones as Tracy Turnblad; and Ben James-Ellis as Link Larkin. Ball, Jones and James-Ellis are scheduled to star in the show until Oct. 25.

As artistic director of the Open Air Theatre, Talbot directed over 20 shows in as many years, and performed in many of them.

The multi Tony-winning Broadway musical Hairspray officially opened at the West End's Shaftesbury Theatre Oct. 30, 2007, following previews from Oct. 11.

As with the Broadway production, the Marc Shaiman (music and lyrics) and Scott Wittman (lyrics) musical, which received a total of eight 2003 Tonys including Best Musical, is directed by Jack O'Brien with choreography by Jerry Mitchell.

Mark O'Donnell's book is set in sixties Baltimore and is based on John Waters' 1988 movie of the same name. The story follows the fortunes of "pleasantly plump" Baltimore teenager Tracy Turnblad, who yearns to perform in the Corny Collins Dance Show. Transformed overnight from outsider to teen celebrity, Tracy's next mission is to vanquish the program's reigning princess, win the heart of heartthrob Link Larkin and integrate a television show.

In the remake of the film, John Travolta played Edna Turnblad, the cross-dressing role which Ball takes on in the London stage version and which bagged Harvey Fierstein a Tony Award for his performance in the Broadway production.

The Broadway hit premiered at New York's Neil Simon Theatre in 2002, where it continues to run.

Hairspray is produced in London by Stage Entertainment with Margo Lion, The Baruch/Viertel/Routh /Frankel Group, New Line Cinema in association with others from the Broadway producing team.

For more information on Hairspray call (0)207 379 5399.

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