Celebrities Starring In Plays
Imelda Staunton – best known for winning a BAFTA for her role in Vera Drake – is starring in a new version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Harold Pinter Theatre (to 27 May). Directed by Royal Court favourite James Macdonald, the production is based on the 1962 Broadway play written by the late Edward Albee, which inspired the 1966 film starring Elizabeth Taylor. Staunton plays Martha alongside Olivier Award-winner Conleth Hill (Game of Thrones) as George. Together they star as a married couple who rely on fantasy and delusion to retreat from their volatile relationship. As the drinks flow at a party, a bizarre truth is revealed.
John Boyega has come a long way since playing a gang leader who saves the streets of Brixton from aliens in Attack the Block. In 2015 he starred in a film that most actors would quite literally break a leg for: Star Wars: The Force Awakens. While Boyega could walk into any blockbuster role, he has opted to return to the stage with Woyzeck (from 13 May) at The Old Vic, which is set to be his biggest theatrical role. Set between East and West Berlin, Boyega plays a young soldier. The force is strong with this one.
Harry Potter made him a household name, but in recent years Daniel Radcliffe has proven that there is more to him than wizardry. He’s starred in the West End and on Broadway in Privacy, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Equus – a show which saw him nude on stage. Now the star is wowing again as Rosencrantz in Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead, 50 years after it premiered at The Old Vic (to 29 Apr). Directed by David Leveaux, the award-winning tragic comedy follows two hapless minor characters from Shakespeare’s Hamlet who, in this play, take centre stage. Forgetful and out of their depth, the double act stumble in and out of the action.
When a novel becomes a Hollywood movie and an award-winning Broadway and West End musical, you know you’re on to something. 42nd Street at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane sees Grammy Award-winning Sheena Easton play a Broadway star who gets injured, giving an unknown actress a shot at stardom. Directed by Mark Bramble, the romantic comedy follows an authoritarian director as he stages a musical extravaganza during the Great Depression. Bramble says: ‘The original show had the look of a Warner Brothers’ black-and-white film. This time we’re doing an MGM Technicolor version, with additional songs and dances.’
David Tennant – most famous for playing the lead role in the BBC series Doctor Who – takes on another iconic part as the star of Don Juan (to 10 Jun), which is running at Wyndham’s Theatre. Patrick Marber writes and directs the production, which is adapted from Molière’s play, and gives the story a contemporary twist. Tennant is no stranger to the West End – in 2009 he played a young, parka-wearing prince in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s version of Hamlet and received critical acclaim for his take on the title role.
Best known for stand-up comedy, this month Lenny Henry takes the lead in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui at the Donmar Warehouse (from 20 Apr). The production was originally written in 1941 by German playwright Bertolt Brecht, who escaped Germany before World War II. But while Brecht set the play in 1930s Chicago, in a time of jazz and Prohibition, it is inspired by real events and based on the rise of Hitler – the main character, Ui, resembles the German dictator. Since it premiered in 1958 in Germany, Ui has been played by Al Pacino, Griff Rhys Jones and Antony Sher – and now it’s Henry’s turn in his Donmar debut. Henry’s most notable stage performance was playing the lead in Othello.