Lenny Henry, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, London, UK

Lenny Henry stars as the small-time crook in The Reistible Rise of Arturo Ui. (©Donmar Warehouse)

Stars Light Up London’s West End

By Sarah Riches on 03/03/17, updated 03/11/17
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Katherine Jenkins, known for singing the Welsh national anthem at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, is treading the boards in an unexpected role from April, and she’s not the only superstar on the London stage.

Katherine Jenkins—'Carousel'

Once you’ve sung for the Queen, where do you go from there? For soprano Katherine Jenkins, OBE, the next move is her first major acting role, in the iconic musical "Carousel" at London Coliseum (7 Apr–13 May).

So why did the role appeal? “I’ve always loved singing – I was inspired as a child by watching West End musicals,’ says Katherine. “I’m a huge fan of the West End and musical theatre and I’d always secretly hoped to be in a musical. 'Carousel' is one of the greatest musicals of all time, and this version has an outstanding orchestra performing in a beautiful theatre.”

Expect to recognise classic songs such as "You’ll Never Walk Alone," "June is Bustin’ Out All Over" and the duet, "If I Loved You" – Katherine’s favourite, which she sings alongside the star tenor, Alfie Boe. She plays millworker Julie Jordan who falls for Billy Bigelow, a charming rascal from Maine (Boe).

Katherine Jenkins and Alfie Boe in Carousel, London, UK

Lenny Henry—'The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui'

Best known for stand up comedy, the multi-talented creative Lenny Henry takes the lead in "The Resistible Rise Of Arturo Ui" at Donmar Warehouse (21 Apr–17 Jun). The production was written in 1941 by the German playwright Bertolt Brecht, who escaped Germany before World War II.

But while Brecht set the play in the era of the Great Depression, in 1930s Chicago in a time of jazz and prohibition, it is inspired by real events and based on the rise of Hitler. Small-time crook Arturo Ui grabs the chance to make a name for himself. He and his mobster henchmen insist they want to protect workers and their jobs – but through bribery and corruption.

Henry has a tough act to follow; after it premiered in 1958 in Germany, Ui has been played by Al Pacino, Griff Rhys Jones and Antony Sher.

Imelda Staunton—'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'

Imelda Staunton ("Gypsy", "Sweeney Todd") is best known for winning a Bafta for her role as a leading actress in "Vera Drake". Now she’s set to co-star in a new version of "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" at the Harold Pinter Theatre (to 27 May). The production is based on the 1962 Broadway play by the late playwright Edward Albee, which inspired the 1966 film starring Elizabeth Taylor.

Staunton plays Martha alongside the Olivier Award-winner Conleth Hill ("Game of Thrones") as George. Together they play a married couple who rely on fantasy and delusion to retreat from their volatile relationship.

Imelda Staunton in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, London, UK

Daniel Radcliffe—'Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead'

Harry Potter made him a household name but in recent years Radcliffe has forged a proven track record on stage too, finding success in many West End and Broadway shows. The star is set to wow again as Rosencrantz in Tom Stoppard’s iconic play, "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead" (25 Feb–29 Apr) at The Old Vic, 50 years after it premiered here. The tragi-comedy follows two hapless minor characters from Shakespeare’s Hamlet who in this play take centre stage, who stumble their way in and out of the action.

Daniel Radcliffe in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, London, UK

Sheena Easton—'42nd Street'

When a novel becomes a Hollywood film and an award-winning Broadway and West End musical, you know you’re on to something.  The new production of "42nd Street" at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane (20 Mar–22 Jul) is not to be missed.

The romantic comedy follows a bossy director as he stages a musical extravaganza during the Great Depression. Grammy Award-winning singer Sheena Easton—known for hit songs such as "For Your Eyes Only"—stars as Dorothy Brock, a Broadway star who gets injured on opening night. Although the original production had the look of a Warner Brothers black-and-white film, this one is all about an MGM Technicolor version, with more songs and dances. With hit song and dance numbers such as "We’re in the Money" and "Shuffle off to Buffalo," let’s just hope nobody does break a leg.

Sheena Easton in 42nd Street, London, UK

David Tennant—'Don Juan in Soho'

Most famous for playing the lead role in the BBC series Doctor Who, Tennant takes on another iconic part, the title role in "Don Juan in Soho" at Wyndham’s Theatre (17 Mar–10 Jun).

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 parka-wearing prince in Hamlet and received critical acclaim for his take on the title role. 

David Tennant in Don Juan in Soho