Producers of other West End productions are using the reality television shows as a way of casting their eye over a slew of new talent.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the producers of the forthcoming London production of Hairspray have found their heartthrob Link Larkin in the form of 18-year-old Ben Ellis, who was a contestant on Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Any Dream Will Do," which sought a lead for Lloyd Webber's current revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
On Aug. 20 Ellis and the rest of the cast will begin rehearsals for Hairspray, which opens at London's Shaftesbury Theatre on Oct. 30 following previews that begin Oct. 11.
Newcomer Leanne Jones takes on the role of Tracy Turnblad, while Michael Ball (Phantom and Les Miz) and Mel Smith (in his musical debut) play Tracy's parents.
Olivier winner Tracie Bennett (Les Miz, High Society, She Loves Me) will play Velma Von Tussle, and Rachel Wooding (We Will Rock You) will be Velma's daughter Amber. The Marc Shaiman- Scott Wittman musical, which received a total of eight 2003 Tonys including Best Musical, had been booked at London's Adelphi Theatre but was delayed to avoid clashing with the recent release of John Travolta's movie version.
In the film Travolta plays Edna Turnblad, the cross-dressing role, which Ball takes on in the London version and which bagged Harvey Fierstein a Tony Award for his performance in the Broadway production.
Set in sixties Baltimore, the show is based on John Waters' 1988 movie of the same name. With a book by Marc O'Donnell, 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.
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.