Meeting Phill Jupitus, Sharon D Clarke and Belinda Carlisle at Hairspray’s New Cast Party

Cupcakes featuring the new Hairspray cast

Phill Jupitus has his face on a cake. And he’s pretty excited about it.

“Being in Hairspray is something that I’d always dreamed of,” he told us last night in Teatro Members Club at a party for the new Hairspray cast. “And now I’ve got a cake with my face on it…

“I’ve always loved music, and always hung out with musicians: the Blockheads, Style Council, the Housemartins. For any performer, doing musical theatre has to be the top of the tree.

“However, dressing as a woman for money was not how I’d thought my career was going.”

There’s a big screen rigged up in Teatro, showing the final number of Hairspray The Musical, “You Can’t Stop The Beat“, one which Phill and his new co-stars Belinda Carlisle and Sharon D Clarke have worked on first, getting it up to performance standard.

Phill Jupitus

Every so often, Phill’s face appears, full-screen, as big as a wall, barely recognisable, red lips sparkling. It distracts us both. “Yes, there I am. And do you know, I look so much like my mother…”  Phill blinks and blinks behind his thick-rimmed glasses to emphasise this last point. It’s obviously a revelation for him too.

We wonder how his performance as Edna is going to be different to those of his predecessors, the award-winning and much-loved Michael Ball and, playing currently, Brian Conley.

“Oh, I saw them both. Huge fans of them both. They were quite different. Brian is a great personality. Michael has this voice… I sang with him once on The Big Breakfast. Lovely bloke.”

And…? “And… I’ll be different to them both.” He grins – nervously? ”Different. You’ll have to come and see it.

“Hairspray is such a feel-good show. And now, I’d like you to think of it as a Phill good show,” he quips.

Sharon D Clarke is just as excited as Phill. For her, Hairspray represents a really great opportunity. “There aren’t many shows featuring three big women. There aren’t any…! And Motormouth is the perfect role for me. I love how she’s the catalyst. The whole show is really feel-good, but it has this underlying truth. Tracy really learns about people in the play; she realises how people can come together for good. I think it’s a great show.”

We had less time to talk to Belinda Carlisle, who’s playing Velma von Tussle. She told us she’d auditioned for Hairspray while it was on Broadway, but the show had closed soon after due to the economic situation, and she’d been waiting for it to come to London to get another spray of that Hairspray can!

We asked Sharon and Phill what other West End shows they’d consider taking part in. Sharon’s choice actually comes from Broadway: The Colour Purple. “It’s a fantastic show. The music, its Quincey Jones, Brenda Russell, Stephen Bray, is phenomenal. And I’d like to play Sophie.” Any West End producers listening out there?!

Phill’s answer is closer to home: “I’d be in Avenue Q. I met the puppet master recently and played around with the characters… Oh, yes, I’ve had my hand up Princeton’s bum…”

What do you think of the new Hairspray casting? Let us know in the comments below!

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  1. Lilac says:

    Heaven is a place on earth… London’s West End, it seems!

  2. londonlover says:

    This sound great! When are they all starting their stint in the show?

  3. Zoe J. Griffiths says:

    Hey – sorry I forgot to add dates to this.

    They’ll ALL be starting in Hairspray from 26 October…

    And they said we had to tell everyone they’re doing SUNDAY SHOWS from 8 Nov. So now you know!

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