Louise Plowright, the stage and screen actress who originated the role of Tanya in the hit musical Mamma Mia! has died at the age of 59.
The family of the popular star announced her death today following her battle with pancreatic cancer which was first diagnosed in 2013, forcing her to withdraw from her role as Madame Morrible in Wicked.
After training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Plowright first found fame on the small screen in 1989 playing hairdresser Julie Cooper in EastEnders.
Following her West End theatre debut as Tanya in Mamma Mia! in 1999, the actress took over the lead role of Donna in the following year, a part she would play for four years.
Her other theatre credits include Hot Shoe Shuffle, Bad Girls – The Musical, Follies and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
A statement announcing that the actress had lost her cancer battle was posted on Facebook where Plowright had previously launched a crowdfunding appeal to raise funds for her treatment. It read: ‘Dear wonderful supporters of Louise. I am so sorry to have to let you know that an hour ago we lost Louise to that horrid disease. All of her family were with her. The world has lost a truly special person, prodigiously talented, and a friend to all. Can I thank all of you who joined us in this battle and who helped Louise to have hope.’
On the Mamma Mia! Twitter feed, it read: ‘Louise Plowright – Forever our Dancing Queen, always in our hearts x”, while the Bristol Old Vic feed commented: ‘Tragic news about the loss of Louise Plowright. A towering force of nature on stage and off. Bristol will miss you.’