Normally, for most theatre regulars, you notice somebody on the stage that you’ve seen before. That chorus member who has swapped box-stepping at Les Miserables for tumbling down the Wicked set dressed as a monkey. However recently, and for the forseable future, it has been Hollywood A-listers who are gracing the West End stages.
Chiwetel Ejiofor, BAFTA Award winning and Oscar nominated for his role in 12 Years a Slave, has been playing the titular role of Everyman in Carol Ann Duffy’s adaptation of the medieval moral play, and will remain at the National Theatre until the 30th of August. Mark Gatiss, of Sherlock fame, joins Ejiofor at the National in the 18th Century Russian play, Three Days In The Country.
Meanwhile, across the river, Imelda Staunton, probably most famous for her portrayal of Professor Umbridge in the Harry Potter series, has been the leading lady for Stephen Sondheim’s Gypsy at the Savoy Theatre. Bradley Cooper, nominated for 3 Oscars and a Tony Award, has just finished a stint as playing Joseph Merrick in the real life story of The Elephant Man.
At the Phoenix Theatre, Twilight, Harry Potter and Sweeney Todd actor, Jamie Campbell Bower is currently featuring as Joe in the musical adaptation of Bend It Like Beckham, joined by Eastenders actor Preeya Kalidas playing Pinky.
The enigmatic Benedict Cumberbatch is currently in previews for, what is arguably, the theatrical event of the year in Hamlet at the Barbican, where he is also joined by Ciarán Hinds, known for his roles in Harry Potter as Aberforth Dumbledore, and in the film adaptation of The Woman in Black, as Samuel Daly, who will fill the role of Claudius.
Still to come includes Kenneth Branagh’s debut season at the Garrick, featuring seemingly everybody… Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi and Zoë Wanamaker all star, as well as Lily James and Richard Madden as the star crossed couple in Romeo and Juliet.
Nicole Kidman will step onto the Noel Coward stage under the direction of Michael Grandage in Photograph 51, and David Tennant returns as Richard II at the Barbican for just five performances.
Undoubtedly, if you are in the West End over the coming months, it will be hard to miss the face of a reasonably well known celebrity adorned outside of the theatres you walk past. Whilst it seems like a blessing to be able to be so close to those we are familiar with from film and television, the fame also acts as a curse.
Is the celebrity appearance and masterclass of acting worthy of the often overly expensive seat prices and near impossibility of buying them? There’s only one way to find out: buy a ticket – if you can – and find out for yourself!
Please note: Opinions expressed on the londontheatredirect.com blog are those of the relevant contributors, not of London Theatre Direct Ltd, its owners or staff. London Theatre Direct Ltd is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by contributors.