Stage and screen star Mark Benton will lead the company of the award-winning musical comedy HAIRSPRAY when it embarks on a UK and Ireland tour next year. The multi-million production will officially open at Manchester's Lowry Theatre on Wednesday 13 February. Mark will play the larger than life Turnblad family matriarch Edna in the show, with further casting to be announced soon.
Mark Benton is one of the country's most loved and recognisable television actors with roles in programmes as diverse as Early Doors, Eureka Street, Catterick, Second Coming, City Lights, Booze Cruise, Land Girls, and The Street. He can currently be seen as Chalky in the BBC series Waterloo Road. On stage he has appeared in work at The National Theatre, the Old Vic, the Lyric Hammersmith, the Donmar Warehouse, the Royal Court and the RSC.
Mark Benton, Hairspray's new Edna Turnblad, said:
"I can't wait to start Hairspray, it's going to be amazing fun and an interesting challenge for me as it's my first adventure into the world of musicals...that I get to go on that adventure playing a Baltimore housewife is an added bonus! As a musical I think it has everything, great songs, great script, really interesting story and lots and lots of laughs...I hope!"
Rebecca Quigley, MD of Stage Entertainment, Hairspray's producer said:
"Just the mention of Hairspray guarantees a huge smile from anyone you talk to and we felt it was high time that people across the country get to see Tracy, Edna, Wilbur and the gang again. Hairspray is one of the most warm-hearted, positive and joyous musicals I've had the pleasure of working on and the smiles have got even bigger now we know our cast will be lead by the incalculably talented Mark Benton"
It's 1962, the 50s are out and change is in the air. Baltimore's Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, has only one passion – dancing. She wins a spot on the local TV dance programme, The Corny Collins Show and, overnight, is transformed from outsider to irrepressible teen celebrity. But can a trendsetting hair-hopper like Tracy get her massively shy Mom out of the apartment, beat evil Amber to be crowned Miss Hairspray, integrate Corny's show for good AND win the heart of local heartthrob Link Larkin, all without denting her super high 'do'? If anyone can, Tracy can!
The musical HAIRSPRAY opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London on October 2007, recouping its entire capitalisation in record-breaking time. The show received universal critical acclaim and smash hit business and eventually played more than 1000 performances to well over 1 million people. At the 2008 Olivier Awards, HAIRSPRAY won Best Musical, as well as a further three awards from a record breaking eleven nominations. The show has also won Best Musical at the Evening Standard Awards, the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers Choice awards, the Critics' Circle Awards and the Variety Club Showbiz Awards. It embarked on its first UK tour in 2010 playing to nearly ¾ million people in sold out houses across Britain. Further afield the show has played at venues around the world, including six years on Broadway, and won more than 40 major theatre awards.
Official website www.hairspraythetour.com