The West End has some of the longest running shows in the world.
The Mousetrap at the St Martin's Theatre is in its sixty third year and still filling seats. Woman in Black has enjoyed a surge in ticket sales after the film adaptation and has now been running at the Fortune Theatre for twenty five years. Les Miserables will celebrate thirty years in the West End in October and Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre has been running since September 1986. Even Wicked has now been running for over seven years.
So many wonderful actors have graced the stages of these fabulous productions but I wanted to know for just how long some of them had performed.
I asked some the biggest stars of the West End, who had played a role for the longest? Here's what they told me:
Peter Lockyer current Jean Valjean in Les Miserables said:
"Let's hear it kids? 6 yrs as Marius for me."
Savannah Stevenson who is currently playing Glinda in Wicked added
"Only 1yr & 3 months, which is right now in Wicked."
Carrie Hope Fletcher, currently playing Eponine in Les Miserables said
"6 Months as Young Eponine, a year and 7 months as Eponine (does that count?)!"
Most of us can only dream about performing on a West End Stage, but does playing the same role day after day ever get dull? How do the big stars continue to keep the show exciting for the audience?
Geronimo Raunch is currently starring as The Phantom of the Opera but played Jean Valjean in Les Miserables for nearly three years. When I asked him how he keeps his performances fresh, he replied, "I always find the answer in the lyrics! Keeping it fresh is our challenge!"
Michael Ball played Edna Turnblat in Hairspray for thousands of performances. Speaking afterwards he said:
"The very fact that I stayed with the show speaks volumes. I never stay longer than a year but I was with Hairspray for over two, and there was never a day when I thought 'oh no, I’ve got to do it again tomorrow.' "
I told Peter Lockyer that he was the winner according to my little survey and he replied
Oh, not winner, no, just participant. There are plenty of friends who've done longer runs. Pal George Lee Andrews 23+ yrs!
It's fascinating that these amazing actors can play someone else everyday for so long. Do aspects of the character eventually rub off on the actor? Does Kerry Ellis now ask for green elixir in the pub and does Geronimo Raunch hide half of his face when he's travelling on the bus?
I guess some of their secrets they just have to keep to themselves.
By Nicky Sweetland
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