See the stars of 'Heartstopper' in the West End and on Broadway

Kit Connor, Joe Locke, and more from Netflix's hugely successful series are appearing in shows like Romeo + Juliet, Sweeney Todd, and Cabaret.

Marianka Swain
Marianka Swain

We all fell in love with Netflix’s gorgeous queer-centric, coming-of-age series Heartstopper, adapted by Alice Osman from her webcomic and graphic novels. The story centres on teenagers Charlie Spring and Nick Nelson, who gradually form a relationship, and support one another on their parallel paths.

The series also digs into the lives of their friends, including Tao, Elle, Isaac, Tara, and Darcy, as they explore their sexualities and identities – whether making the leap from besties to dating, or fighting back against peer pressure.

The series has made stars of its incredibly talented cast (well, Olivia Colman, who plays Nick’s mum, was already a star, but the others have definitely benefitted from the millions of Netflix viewers!). Now, we’re seeing plenty of them flocking to theatre too, both in London and on Broadway.

From Romeo and Juliet and Slave Play to Sweeney Todd and Cabaret, here are some of the fantastic productions where you can find Heartstopper actors treading the boards. They stopped our hearts – now can they stop the show?

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Romeo + Juliet

Kit Connor does exquisitely sensitive work in Heartstopper as the popular, rugby-playing Nick, who initially struggles to reconcile his typically macho identity with his burgeoning feelings for sweet, geeky Charlie. He also has a difficult relationship with his father and older brother.

All of which should be excellent preparation for Connor taking on the role of Romeo in Sam Gold’s radical, contemporary new take on Shakespeare – coming to Broadway this autumn. Connor stars opposite West Side Story’s Rachel Zegler, and the show features music by Jack Antonoff.

Find out more about Romeo + Juliet on New York Theatre Guide.

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Rhea Norwood plays the endearing Imogen in Heartstopper. In the first season, she has a hopeless crush on Nick, who struggles to let her down easy while still figuring out his own emotions. In the second season, Imogen dates the manipulative Ben, but eventually learns to stand up for herself.

Now Norwood is making her professional West End debut, playing Sally Bowles in Cabaret. She’s the latest fantastic casting in the multi-Olivier-winning immersive production, and she’ll be starring opposite Strictly Come Dancing finalist Layton Williams, plus Sally Ann Triplett and Fenton Gray.

Book Cabaret tickets on London Theatre.

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Sweeney Todd

Joe Locke had his breakthrough as the gentle, intelligent Charlie in Heartstopper. He’s taken audiences on this complicated journey, with both amazing highs, from his blossoming romance and deep-rooted friendships, and some real lows – such as bullying and Charlie’s struggle with an eating disorder.

Locke made his Broadway debut as Tobias in the recently closed Sweeney Todd, in a production led by Aaron Tveit and Sutton Foster. Tobias is the innocent assistant who gets caught up in the murderous scheming of Sweeney and Mrs Lovett.

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Bradley Riches plays James McEwan in Heartstopper, a kind, friendly character who develops a crush on Charlie’s quiet pal Isaac. It turns out Isaac is on a different journey, but James continues to be supportive. He’s also autistic, as is the actor.

Riches is staying in the classroom for a new(born) musical, Babies, at The Other Palace. Jack Godfrey and Martha Geelan’s show sees nine students tasked with keeping a fake baby alive for a week, as part of the school’s strategy to combat teen pregnancy.

Book Babies tickets on London Theatre.

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Slave Play

It’s not just the kids who impress in Heartstopper. Fisayo Akinade also plays a key role as art teacher Mr Ajayi: his classroom becomes a refuge for Charlie, and he imparts lessons from his former experiences as a gay student. He even gets his own lovely romance on the show.

Akinade is taking on a very different challenge this summer as he joins the West End cast of Jeremy O Harris’s thought-provoking Slave Play, alongside Kit Harington and Olivia Washington. Akinade plays Toby, who is in an interracial gay relationship; the play tackles power, race, sex, and history.

Book Slave Play tickets on London Theatre.

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Photo credits: Romeo + Juliet (Sam Levy), Cabaret (Jay Brooks), Sweeney Todd (Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman)

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