People to watch in theatre in 2024

Our columnist reflects on some of the most exciting artists to look out for in 2024, from producers like Jamie Wilson to the star of MJ the Musical Myles Frost.

Mickey-Jo Theatre
Mickey-Jo Theatre

There is some incredible talent hitting the theatre world in 2024 – both on and off stage – from producers and directors to actors and choreographers. Mickey-Jo Theatre rounds up the faces he'll be looking out for this year.

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Desmonda Cathabel

Recently seen auditioning for Mamma Mia’s Sophie on the ITV casting show: Mamma Mia! I Have a Dream, this Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of The Year Winner has already made considerable waves, appearing in the first London revival of From Here to Eternity, alternating the role of Kim in Sheffield Crucible’s Miss Saigon and landing the role of Princess Jasmine in the brand new UK Tour of Aladdin. Having already conquered Off- West End, regional and touring stages, a West End arrival for this star feels inevitable.

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Craige Els

One of 2024’s highlights could be coming as early as January with Just For One Day, the upcoming theatricalisation of the 1985 Live Aid concert. Already bearing a seal of approval from Sir Bob Geldof, the musician and activist will be portrayed on stage by Craige Els. A veteran actor, Els has appeared in a plethora of plays as well as a recent stint in Matilda the Musical as Miss Trunchbull. We can assume that the role of Geldof could bring Craige deservedly to the forefront and put him in contention for next year’s Olivier Awards along with the show itself.

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Myles Frost

Another hotly anticipated performance must surely be the arrival of Broadway’s Myles Frost who will recreate his Tony Award-winning portrayal of Michael Jackson in MJ the Musical. The show follows the creation of Jackson’s 1992 Dangerous World tour and combines his iconic catalogue and unforgettable dance with a book from playwright Lynn Nottage. Even friends who are indifferent to the music icon’s discography have assured me Frost’s is an electrifying turn.

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Jack Godfrey

Among the most exciting new voices in musical theatre is Jack Godfrey, whose show Babies (co-written with Martha Geelan) was staged in concert last year. Previously, Jack’s show 42 Balloons received similar concert treatment and will receive a fully staged production in 2024 at the Salford Lowry. This show, whose unusual plot synopsis (much like the now beloved Come From Away) must be accompanied by this recommendation: you just have to see it. With another musical set to be in development as part of Birmingham Hippodrome’s new musicals programme, Godfrey is clearly a composer set to explode into the world of contemporary musical theatre.

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Grace Hodgett-Young

The start of spring will be marked with the West End transfer of Tony Award-winning musical and fan favourite Hadestown to the Lyric Theatre. The recently announced cast includes true star-in-the-making Grace Hodgett-Young who will play one of the show’s leading roles, Eurydice. Hodgett-Young has shot sharply to prominence in the last few months, having recently made her professional debut as Betty Shaeffer in Jamie Lloyd’s bold revival of Sunset Boulevard. Already garnering attention with this stunning portrayal, we can expect to hear more of her powerful belt in Hadestown.

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Charlie Josephine

The Royal Court Theatre has landed the transfer of Cowbois which I recently adored at the RSC. Playwright Charlie Josephine is fast becoming one of the most vital voices in queer theatre and followed up on their riotous I, Joan with this alternately urgent and euphoric Western. Though it remains important for such writing to convey the immediate dangers faced by the trans community, what puts Josephine at the forefront is their capacity to illuminate this alongside dreamlike moments of aspirational escape.

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Ellen Kane

In the world of choreography, few are experiencing so meteoric a rise as Ellen Kane. On the back of her globally acclaimed and viral choreography for the Matilda movie and recent work in the smash hit play Dear England, Kane’s choreography will be seen on stages again as the Leicester Curve revival of A Chorus Line heads to Sadler’s Wells for the summer amidst a UK Tour. The show is rarely mounted without the iconic original staging from Michael Bennett, which is a tribute to Kane’s distinctive contemporary style. Her work on the dance and movement in last year’s workshop presentation of Why Am I So Single? was also a huge component of the new musical’s success, and she will surely be a part of the inevitable full production.

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Joaquin Pedro Valdes

Another show we might expect to hear more from in 2024 is Death Note, a musical adaptation of a hugely popular manga which sold out its staged concert run in 2023 and left me particularly impressed. Joaquin Pedro-Valdes played the complex anti-hero Light and combined an edgy characterisation with soaring vocal chops. Having already appeared in Heathers, The Lion King and Then, Now & Next, he can currently be seen giving a dynamic, samurai sword- wielding performance in Pacific Overtures at the Menier Chocolate Factory.

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Luke Sheppard

Finally, though 2024 will begin for him with Just For One Day at the Old Vic, director Luke Sheppard has a busy year ahead. In fact he will helm one of the year’s most anticipated openings as the director of a new production of Starlight Express. Fast earning a global reputation with his bold staging and heart-wrenching sentimentality, Sheppard will enjoy another Broadway opening as Rob Madge’s My Son’s a Queer (But What Can You Do?) heads stateside, to join his production of & Juliet, one of last season’s most enduringly successful openings. He’s even booked into 2025, when he will work on the musical adaptation of another icon: Paddington Bear.

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Tyrell Williams

The multi-award winning play from Tyrell Williams, Red Pitch returned to the Bush Theatre as part of its 50th anniversary season last year and will soon be seen again as it becomes the latest production to run at the West End’s newest theatre, @sohoplace. This work has already earned accolades for Williams from The Stage Debut Awards and the Critics’ Circle and will surely continue to put his name rightly on the map. Alongside James Graham’s recent smash-hit, Dear England, this is a play about football and much more, telling a powerful story about regeneration. With this, his debut play, Williams has landed the kind of goal that keeps on scoring.

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Jamie Wilson

Among a team of producers on Just For One Day, one is keeping himself particularly busy. Jamie Wilson who, having already brought Mrs. Doubtfire the musical to London as part of a decade long lease of the Shaftesbury Theatre, next turns his attention towards a return engagement of Sister Act at the Dominion Theatre and the upcoming musical adaptation of The Devil Wears Prada. Clearly responsible for turning Doubtfire into a West End hit, Wilson is certainly establishing himself as a growing force among London’s producers with his finger closely on the pulse of audience interest.

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Photo credit: Grace Hodgett-Young, Luke Sheppard, and Tyrell Williams. (Photos courtesy of productions)

This article first appeared in the January 2024 issue of London Theatre Magazine.

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