Where to watch celebrities onstage in the West End
2020 theatre gave us plenty of streamed productions, and a chance to see our favourite stars in digital theatre shows. Now, with theatres open once again, the West End is allowing audiences to see world-class entertainment before their very eyes. There are plenty of opportunities to catch celebrities in person — still from a safe distance — as well as virtually. From high-energy musical, classic dramas and new stories, having a celebrity in a show can introduce a new audience to the theatre, which can only be a good thing .
Which celebrities are in the West End in 2021?
Here are some of the starry performances on offer in 2021. We’ve listed some of the major performers taking part in London shows in the coming months. But if you’re looking for even more opportunities to be a star-spotter, then why not check out our stars on stage page?
Even though Arinzé Kene’s theatre career may not be as long as others on this list, it’s definitely mighty. As well as an Olivier Award-nominated turn in his own work, Misty, Kene starred in the acclaimed production of Death of a Salesman alongside Wendell Pierce and Sharon D. Clarke, and originated roles in One Night in Miami and Girl from the North Country. He’s even been awarded an OBE for services to drama, and his next role will definitely put him on the map for a wider audience.
Kene’s soon to play Bob Marley in the world premiere of Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical. It’s set to be a joyful, celebratory musical that champions Bob Marley’s musical career, and we’re sure to be cheering for Kene at the Lyric Theatre too.
The queen of soul has now become the unrivalled queen of West End theatre. Perhaps unbelievably, Knight only made her West End debut in 2013, cast as Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard, a role made famous by Whitney Houston. Now, with theatre credits including Memphis, Cats and Sylvia, she’s definitely a force to be reckoned with.
Knight’s next role is set to be an exciting one too, playing the lauded music manager Faye Treadwell in The Drifters Girl at the Garrick Theatre. The powerhouse cast includes Matt Henry and Tarinn Callender, and it’s sure to introduce the Drifters’ music to a new audience.
Carrie Hope Fletcher is a West End leading lady for the younger generations. In an exciting career to date, she’s starred in Heathers, Les Miserables, Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. She’s not just a theatre star too — the multi-hyphenate has also enjoyed a successful literary and YouTube career. Not one to rest on her laurels, Fletcher continues to perform on stage, now originating a role in a world premiere musical.
Audiences can currently see Fletcher play Cinderella in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella at the Gillian Lynne Theatre. Rather than playing a dolled up princess, this Cinderella is a fiery, determined individual with a definite spark, thanks to Fletcher's excellent portrayal.
Who hasn’t seen Eddie Redmayne in a film? The Academy Award-winning actor’s been in films like Les Miserables, The Danish Girl and The Theory of Everything. But he was once a West End regular, notably giving an Olivier-winning performance in Red. Now, over a decade later, audiences can finally hear Redmayne sing live.
Redmayne’s West End musical debut comes in Cabaret as the Emcee, starring alongside Jessie Buckley as Sally Bowles. The star-studded Cabaret revival will have theatregoers stepping into the Kit Kat Klub (thanks to a Playhouse Theatre refurbishment) and who knows, maybe you’ll be served by Redmayne yourself?
Ralph Fiennes has numerous iconic films on his CV, including Schindler’s List, The English Patient, The Constant Gardener, In Bruges, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Skyfall and the Harry Potter movies, in which he played the terrifying Lord Voldemort. He made his directorial debut with a film adaptation of Coriolanus, and also became renowned for his Shakespearean work on stage; he won a Tony Award for his Hamlet on Broadway, and an Evening Standard Award for the National’s Antony and Cleopatra.
In 2020, Fiennes starred in Beat The Devil at the Bridge Theatre, which was all about playwright David Hare’s experience of contracting Covid-19. This year, Fiennes will star in another one-man play, this time taking on T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets at the Harold Pinter Theatre.
Even though she’s still in her twenties, most actresses could only dream of a career like Saoirse Ronan’s. Her film CV is packed with blockbusters, like Atonement, Lady Bird, Little Women and Mary Queen of Scots. She’s even made her Broadway debut too, cast as Abigail Williams in a revival of The Crucible.
Continuing her matriarchal roles, Ronan will now make her London stage debut as Lady Macbeth in The Tragedy of Macbeth at the Almeida Theatre. The new adaptation is set to be an apocalyptic take on the Shakespeare classic, and we’re sure Ronan will give a masterclass performance.
It’s been over 40 years since Channing gave her career-defining performance as Rizzo in Grease. The Academy Award-nominated actress has wowed us across stage and screen, with credits including Six Degrees of Separation (both film and stage), The West Wing and more recently, The Good Wife. But the New York City actress has starred in London shows too, including Apologia.
Channing returns to London this year, playing Thelma Cates in ‘night Mother at Hampstead Theatre. She’ll play the mother role in Marsha Norman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, which runs for just six weeks.
Equally adept at comedy and drama, Tamsin Greig has impressed with everything from sitcoms Black Books, Green Wing, Episodes and Friday Night Dinner and Julian Fellowes’s period drama Belgravia to her Olivier Award-winning performance in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Much Ado About Nothing, gender-swapped Malvolia in the National’s Twelfth Night, and beloved turn as Debbie Aldridge in Radio 4’s The Archers.
In 2020, she tackled Nights in the Garden of Spain, one of Alan Bennett’s revered Talking Heads monologues that enjoyed a revival on the BBC. Originally performed by Penelope Wilton, it’s a study of quiet desperation: a lonely, neglected housewife who is compelled to assess her situation following a neighbourhood tragedy. Greig will continue appearing in plays this year, starring in Peggy For You at the Hampstead Theatre.
Photo credit: Carrie Hope Fletcher and Ralph Fiennes (Photos courtesy of Cinderella and Four Quartets)
Article Updated: 21 September 2021