Are there really 'few leading men' in the West End?Date: 25 July 2012
Andrew Lloyd Webber's comment on Superstar last night that "we've got so few leading men in theatre" surprised us somewhat. We think that there are plenty of great leading men around, so much so that we’ve put together a list of 15 leading actors in shows that are either on now or coming up soon in the West End. If we extended the list to actors not currently treading the boards, we’d be here all day, of course!
Michael Ball - currently in SWEENEY TODD
The king of them all, Michael Ball has enjoyed a long and fruitful career as a West End leading man (and lady), including working on Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera and Aspects of Love, among others. He won a Whatsonstage.com Award for his cross-dressing turn as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray and can currently be seen starring in Sweeney Todd at the Adelphi Theatre alongside Imelda Staunton.
Tom Chambers - currently in TOP HAT
Having risen to fame in TV's Holby City, Tom Chambers has established himself as a leading West End man thanks to a winning turn on Strictly Come Dancing and successfully stepping into Fred Astaire's tap shoes in Irving Berlin songfest Top Hat, currently running at the Aldwych Theatre.
Adam Cooper - currently in SINGIN' IN THE RAIN
Like Chambers, Adam Cooper is more noted for his dancing than singing, having successfully made the transition from ballet to musical theatre. The former Royal Ballet principal can currently be seen (literally) making audiences wet in Singin' in the Rain at the Palace Theatre.
Adam Garcia - currently in KISS ME, KATE
Australian heartthrob Adam Garcia made his London debut in 1993 with Hot Shoe Shuffle, a tap dance show, and went on to star in Grease and Saturday Night Fever as well as films including Coyote Ugly. He's currently playing Bill Calhoun in Trevor Nunn's revival of Kiss Me, Kate at the Chichester Festival Theatre, which transfers to the Old Vic in November.
Mark Evans - currently in GHOST THE MUSICAL
Mark Evans has racked up leading man credits as Fiyero in Wicked, Curly in the recent UK tour of Oklahoma!, Troy Bolton in the London production of High School Musical and Brad Majors in the UK tour of the Rocky Horror Show. He can currently be seen in Ghost the Musical at the Piccadilly, where he took over from fellow leading man du jour, Whatsonstage.com Award winner Richard Fleeshman.
David Bedella - currently in TORCH SONG TRILOGY
The inimitable American-born David Bedella won an Olivier Award for originating the role of Satan in Jerry Springer: The Opera in 2003. He has since appeared as Billy Flynn in Chicago and toured the UK as Dr Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show. He can currently be seen giving a virtuoso turn in the Menier Chocolate Factory's revival of Harvey Fierstein's Torch Song Trilogy.
Matt Willis - currently in WICKED
Matt Willis came to prominence as a member of the BRIT Award-winning band Busted and has subsequently appeared on TV in I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!. Having trained at the Sylvia Young Theatre School, he made his West End debut in Flashdance and is currently playing love interest Fiyero in Wicked at the Apollo Victoria.
Rolan Bell - currently in RAGTIME
Rolan Bell has notched up an impressive CV of West End credits, including The Harder They Come, The Lion King and the title role in Fela! when it transferred to Sadler’s Wells. He can currently be seen in the Open Air Theatre's revival of Ragtime, which runs until 8 September.
Jon Robyns - currently in SPAMALOT
Jon Robyns was a member of the original West End cast of puppet musical Avenue Q (as Princeton/Rod) and has also appeared in Les Miserables (as Marius). He has just returned to the West End as part of the new cast of Monty Python musical Spamalot, in which he plays Sir Galahad alongside comedian Marcus Brigstocke as King Arthur.
Michael Xavier - opening in SOHO CINDERS
Michael Xavier has also donned Sir Galahad's armour, as part of the show's original residency at the Palace Theatre. He brought tears to many an eye in Love Story at the Duchess Theatre in 2010, has just been seen on the road alongside Connie Fisher in Wonderful Town and is about to star opposite Jenna Russell in Stiles and Drewe's new musical Soho Cinders at Soho Theatre. (Don't miss our Outing, including Q&A, on 7 August!)
Ryan Molloy - currently in JERSEY BOYS
Another Whatsonstage.com Award winner, Ryan Molloy has played the part of Frankie Valli in the West End run of Jersey Boys for over four years, ever since its London premiere at the Prince Edward Theatre. That may not quite put him in the same league as American actress Catherine Russell, who played the same role for 21 years, but is nevertheless testament to the staying power of this dapper young star from the North East of England.
Shaun Escoffery - currently in THE LION KING
Matching Molloy in the longevity stakes is Shaun Escoffery, who has played Mufasa in Disney’s The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre since 2008. The smooth-voiced soul singer has previously appeared in West End big-hitters including Les Miserables and Tommy, as well as the Donmar Warehouse’s critically acclaimed UK premiere of Parade in 2007, for which he won an Olivier .
Oliver Tompsett - currently in ROCK OF AGES
Like many of our West End leading men, Oliver Tompsett won an army of fans in the role of Fiyero in Wicked. The Arts Ed graduate has also been seen in Our House, Mamma Mia! and Over My Shoulder, and can currently be seen playing Drew in head-banging Broadway import Rock of Ages at the Shaftesbury Theatre. You may have also spotted him on screen in the early rounds of the Superstar competition….
Geronimo Rauch - currently in LES MISERABLES
Imported star Geronimo Rauch is currently playing Jean Valjean in the West End’s longest-running musical Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theatre. He has been very successful in Spain and his native Argentina, having roles in Chicago and Grease as well as playing Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar. He has also played Jean Valjean in Madrid and Barcelona.
Tommy Steele - opening in SCROOGE
Finally, a special nod to a veteran leading man whose long career has comprised over 20 hit singles, Hollywood movies such as The Happiest Millionaire and Finian’s Rainbow, and countless stage musicals such as Half a Sixpence, Hans Andersen and Singin’ in the Rain. Tommy Steele is about to reprise his now legendary performance in the title role of Scrooge at the London Palladium.
Is there anyone else that you think we’ve missed? Do you agree with Lloyd Webber’s comments? Do you think that there is plenty of talent around, but lots of people aren’t being cast? And feel free to tell us any names you think we've missed...