Paul Merton makes his West End musical debut | Opposite Michael Ball in Hairspray

Paul Merton makes his West End musical debut

Opposite Michael Ball in Hairspray

Paul Merton is to make his West End debut in the musical Hairspray –  despite admitting he’s no singer or dancer.

The Have I Got News For You comic will play Wilbur Turnblad, the joke shop owner whose daughter Tracy pursues stardom in a local TV dance competition.

The role has previously been played by Jerry Stiller and Christopher Walken on film, and Martin Short and Mel Smith on stage.

Merton said that he hoped that his ‘top-notch’ co-star Michael Ball, playing his wife Edna, would overcome his lack of musical prowess, adding: ‘This is a great opportunity to be in something right outside my comfort zone.’

As a keen comedy historian, he added that it would be an honour to tread the boards of the London Coliseum. ’The Marx Brothers played there, as did Charlie Chaplin as a young man. I never thought I’d appear on the stage there,’ he told the Daily Mail.

Producer Adam Spiegel added: ‘I don’t think either [singing or dancing] are his greatest strengths but he’s a dedicated student of comedy and a fan of vaudeville. He needs to be funny and sincere, which he is in spades.’

The show begins on April 23 and runs until August 29. Tickets are available here.

Published: 24 Jan 2020

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