Ball and Jones Extend Run in London Hairspray; Planer and Rushworth to Join Cast

Hairspray's Michael Ball and Leanne Jones, who won 2008 Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Actor and Best Actress in a Musical for their performances as, respectively, Edna and Tracy Turnblad, have extended their contracts in the London production of the hit musical, currently playing the Shaftesbury Theatre, through July 25.

Leanne Jones and Verity Rushworth in Hairspray.
Leanne Jones and Verity Rushworth in Hairspray. (Photo by Hugo Glendinning)

This production marks the longest continuing part that Ball has ever played in the West End.

Also staying on will be Ben James-Ellis in the role of Link Larkin. Beginning Feb. 2 they will be joined by Nigel Planer, taking over the role of Wilbur Turnblad from Ian Talbot, and Verity Rushworth, taking over the role of Tracy's best friend Penny Pingleton from Elinor Collett.

In a press statement, Adam Speigel for UK producers Stage Entertainment said, " Hairspray goes from strength to strength and I am so pleased to welcome Nigel and Verity to the family. With these two supremely talented actors joining our cast, added to the news that Michael, Leanne and Ben are all staying with the show, we hope that the Shaftesbury Theatre will remain the place to be for West End audiences throughout 2009."

Planer has previously appeared in the West End in the original casts of Chicago (in which he played Roxie Hart's long-suffering husband Amos) and We Will Rock You. He was most recently seen in Wicked, in which he played The Wizard. He is best known for his appearances in TV's "The Comic Strip Prsents…," "The Young Ones," "Shine on Harvey Moon and "Blackadder."

Rushworth joined the cast of TV's "Emmerdale" at the age of 12 in the role of Donna Windsor-Dingle, and has become one of the show's best-loved characters. She leaves the show at the end of January. She also appeared in the 2007 season of ITV's "Soapstar Superstar."

Hairspray is currently booking to October 2009.

To book tickets contact the box office at 020 7379 5399 or visit

(l.-r.) Michael Ball, Leanne Jones and Nigel Planer in London's <i>Hairspray</i>.
(l.-r.) Michael Ball, Leanne Jones and Nigel Planer in London's Hairspray. (Photo by Hugo Glendinning)