MICHAEL Ball has come a long way since the days when his grandfather ran a successful car sales business in Bridgwater .
Now he is one of UK entertainment's top names and he's currently showing precisely why at the Bristol Hippodrome.
Ball has made the role of Edna Turnblad in hit musical Hairspray his own, winning an Olivier Award in the West End.
And he has reprised the role as Hairspray embarks on its first UK tour – stopping off in Bristol until April 30.
Set in 1960s America, it tells the tale of Edna's daughter Tracy as she fights to overcome prejudice and segregation to become Miss Hairspray on TV station WZZT.
Ball gives a brilliant performance as the larger than life Edna.
But this is far from being a one-(wo)man show as the entire company play their part in a memorable musical occasion.
Former Monkee Micky Dolenz is Edna's suitably befuddled and besotted husband Wilbur with their ‘Timeless To Me' duet one of the highlights.
But they receive marvellous support from the younger members of the cast, notably Laurie Scarth as Tracy finally wins her man Link Larkin, played by Liam Doyle.
Emma Dukes is also a star as Penny Pingleton, who overcomes the racial prejudice surrounding her to find love with Seaweed, played by Wayne Robinson.
By the time the finale arrived on Tuesday's opening night, the packed audience were on their feet.
And the roar which greeted the end of ‘You Can't Stop the Beat' almost lifted the roof of the Hippodrome.
Try and catch Hairspray before it moves on – tickets on-line at www.ticketmaster. co.uk