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BLOG : My Top Ten Leading Ladies In The West End

By Nicky Sweetland
Monday 23 March 2015

It's the theatre award season in the West End and with the various panels having very different nominees, I thought I would throw my hat into the ring and decide who I would give one of the awards to. We are very lucky to be blessed with some of the most talented women to have ever graced the London Stage so here I have a countdown of my top ten leading actresses in a musical.

My Top Ten Leading Ladies In The West End

10. Josefina Gabrielle - Mrs Teavee in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory at The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. 
 This three time Olivier nominated actress has a stage presence beyond compare. Gabrielle revels in the subtle comic side of her character although always maintaining a fabulous grace. 
 
 9. Carrie Fletcher - Eponine in Les Miserables at The Queens Theatre.
 This role in the world's longest running musical is so iconic because for most teenage girls, 'On My Own' is the theme tune to their lives. Relating to the unrequited love Eponine feels for Marius, teenagers just love this character and Fletcher's cool yet sensitive portrayal is really worth seeing. 
 
 8. Savannah Stevenson - Glinda in Wicked at The Apollo Victoria. 
 This bubbly ball of fun can be easily overdone, but Stevenson plays the squeaky blond Witch to perfection. Great energy, hilarious delivery and very touching interactions. 
 
7. Rachelle Ann Go - Gi Gi in Miss Saigon at The Prince Edward Theatre. 
 This production has already won plenty of awards and although a relatively small role, Go's Gi Gi commands your attention from her first entrance. Her Movie in Your Mind, with superstar Lea Salonga at the 25th Anniversary Gala will go down as one of my all time favourite theatre moments. 
 
6. Ruthie Henshall - Mrs Wilkinson in Billy Elliot at The Victoria Palace. 
Henshall, is considered by many as West End Royalty. Her numerous roles and award nominations have made her a household name, and with the 2014 live recording now available on DVD, even more people will be able to experience Ruthie giving it the old "Razzle Dazzle".
 
5. Beverley Knight - Felicia in Memphis at The Shaftesbury Theatre. 
 Knight's powerfully soulful voice sends tingles down your spine from the first note. With a cast album and an Olivier nomination, 2015 could be Beverley Knight's year. 
 
4. Katie Brayben - Carole King in Beautiful at The Aldwych Theatre.
 This newly opened production of the Broadway smash hit is a sell out success and a lot of its appeal can be attributed to its star Katie Brayben. The raw, slightly country feel of Brayben's voice along with her vulnerable depiction have given her a worthy Olivier Nomination for the role.
 
3. Eva Noblezada - Kim in Miss Saigon at The Prince Edward Theatre.
 Having just turned 19 years old, Noblezada is only at the very start of what promises to be a glittering career. Her rendition of the heartbreaking 'I'd give my life for you' is simply sublime.
 
2. Dianne Pilkington - Donna in Mamma Mia! at The Novello Theatre.
 Former Glinda, Pilkington has had to mature a little for this role, but the fun and energy she brings to Donna is marvellous. From the fabulous 'Dancing Queen' to the beautiful 'The Winner Takes it all', Pilkington is captivating in her heartfelt performance.
 
1. Kerry Ellis - Grizabella in Cats at the London Palladium. 
 My all time favourite musical theatre performer, the Queen of the West End Ellis took over the role of Grizabella in February and has enjoyed rave reviews ever since. The quality of Ellis' voice is astounding, and her emotional connection to the audience is the stuff of West End legend. 
 
We really are spoilt for female talent in our West End musicals at the moment and I would urge people to see as many of these wonderful performances as possible before it's too late!
 
These are my top ten but who would you choose? 

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Nicky Sweetland

Nicky is fanatical about musical theatre and loves to watch as much of it as she can.

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