Actor Les Dennis is to join the new production of Hairspray the Musical which is set to play a limited season at the London Coliseum from 21 June to 29 September 2021.
As a comedian, impressionist, game show host, reality TV star, soap, screen and stage actor, Dennis’ showbiz career has spanned 50 years. Now, he is to return to the West End in the multi-award-winning hit musical as Wilbur Turnblad, having previously performed the role on tour. He stars alongside Michael Ball, who returns to the legendary, Olivier Award-winning role of Edna Turnblad.
Dennis replaces Paul Merton in the role of Wilbur. Following the delay to the production because of the pandemic, Merton is not able to join the company due to long-standing scheduling commitments.
Lizzie Bea (UK tour of Kinky Boots, Becoming Nancy in Atlanta) will star as Tracy Turnblad, while Marisha Wallace (Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre, Waitress at the Adelphi Theatre) will take on the role of Motormouth.
Rita Simons (EastEnders’ Roxy Mitchell) and Jonny Amies (Granchester on ITV, Sex Education on Netflix/Eleven Film) will also join the cast as Velma Von Tussle and Link Larkin respectively.
Liverpool born Les Dennis came to prominence as a comedian in the 1970s after honing his craft on the northern working men’s club circuit and turning pro after a winning set on New Faces. He became a stalwart of Saturday night TV in the 80s and 90s, starring in TV comedies including The Russ Abbot Show and The Les Dennis Laughter Show, performing sketches and impressions, and most famously as the host of Family Fortunes between 1987 and 2002 on ITV.
In recent years Dennis has enjoyed a busy career as an actor, starring with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and in numerous hit plays and musicals in the West End and on tour, as well as playing a regular role for two years on Coronation Street.
Despite the pandemic, Dennis has kept busy, filming a travel series for Channel 5, a guest lead in the Jimmy McGovern drama Moving On and a starring role in the Christmas Special of Birds of a Feather.
Led by the original award-winning creative team of director Jack O’Brien and choreographer Jerry Mitchell, the full company includes Georgia Anderson, Kimani Arthur, Dermot Canavan, Lori Haley Fox, Mari McGinlay, Ashley Samuels, Michael Vinsen and Imogen Bailey, Pearce Barron, Jordan Benjamin, Joel Cooper, Luke George, Christopher Gopaul, Bradley Judge, Winny Herbert, Lily Laight, Madeleine Lawton, Holly Liburd, Will Luckett, Mireia Mambo, Kody Mortimer, Robyn Rose, Tinovimbanashe Sibanda, Amy West and Natalie Woods.
The original New York production of Hairspray won three Tony Awards, including Best New Musical, whilst the original West End production won four Olivier Awards, also including Best New Musical, as well giving Michael Ball one of his two Olivier Awards for Best Actor in a Musical. Hairspray is produced by Adam Spiegel Productions and Fiery Angel.