Brian Conley is set to return to the London stage this summer when he takes over from Michael Ball as the big mum with a big personality, Edna Turnblad, in Hairspray.
Michael Ball will leave the show on 25 July, and Brian Conley will replace him from 27 July. The date also marks the departure of two other original cast members, Leanne Jones, who plays Tracy, and Ben James Ellis, who plays Link. They are replaced by Chloe Hart and Liam Tamne, former Emmerdale star Verity Rushworth, who will stay with the show until October 2009.
Brian's musical credits include Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Me And My Girl and last summer's revival of The Music Man at Chichester Festival Theatre. He also created the title role in hit West End musical Jolson, and received a Laurence Olivier Award nomination for his performance.
Speaking about his casting Conley said:
I've done a lot in my career, but wearing a dress and heels every night and being married to Nigel Planer weren't things I was expecting to be doing all at the same time, and in front of thousands of people! I'm absolutely delighted to be back in the West End and joining one of the most uplifting, happy and, not to mention, successful shows in town. Being part of something that brings a smile to people's faces, especially in these troubled times, is a real treat and I can't wait to get on stage at the Shaftesbury.