15 theatre faces to look out for in 2015
A new year, a new crop of theatrical talent; we pick 15 rising stars you should keep your eye on
1. Katie Brayben
Following her performance as Princess Diana in Mike Bartlett's smash hit King Charles III (Almeida and Wyndham's), Katie returns to the West End next month as Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Carole King in Beautiful at the Aldwych Theatre.
2. Natalie Dew
Natalie will lead the forthcoming musical adaptation of Bend It Like Beckham when it premieres at the Phoenix Theatre in June.
Last seen on the London stage in the Royal Court's computer hacking drama Teh Internet Is Serious Business, the actress' other stage credits include Rough Cut at the Royal Court and Fault Lines at the Hampstead Theatre.
3. Jamie Campbell Bower
Joining Natalie and making his West End debut is heartthrob Jamie Campbell Bower who plays football coach Joe, a role made famous by Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the film. On screen Jamie has appeared in Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street as well as Harry Potter and The Twilight Saga.
4. Alex Parker
Even though it was only a one-nighter, the show causing the biggest buzz in the West End this week is A Little Night Music at the Palace. Produced and musically directed by Alex, it has received high praise from the likes of Baz Bamigboye to Christopher Biggins. Anyone who can assemble a cast including Janie Dee, Anne Reid, Jamie Parker and Joanna Riding at such an early stage in their career is destined for great things.
5. Vera Chok
Most recently seen in the award-winning Lucy Kirkwood play Chimerica (Almeida and Harold Pinter Theatre), and The World of Extreme Happiness (The Shed at the National Theatre). Vera will next appear in Nicholas Hytner's final production as artistic director for the National Theatre, Tom Stoppard's The Hard Problem.
6. Olivia Vinall
With recent appearances in King Lear and Othello at the South Bank venue, Olivia Vinall is quickly becoming the darling of the National Theatre, add to that a leading role in new Tom Stoppard play The Hard Problem and she is certainly one to add to your one-to-watch list.
7. Alex Lawther
Nominated for Best Newcomer at the WhatsOnStage Awards 2013 for his performance in South Downs, Alex has more recently been seen on stage in The Glass Supper at Hampstead Theatre. Some may also recognise him from playing a young Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, a role for which he received the London Film Critics' Circle Award for Young British Performer of the Year. We're very excited to see what he does next.
8. Patsy Ferran
As of yesterday, Patsy is the Critics' Circle most promising newcomer. Awarded the accolade for her performances in Blithe Spirit with Angela Lansbury and Treasure Island at the National, we've heard rumours that Ferran's next project will be something completely different altogether.
9. Drew McOnie
One of our stand-out productions of 2014 was In The Heights, it was also one that put choreographer Drew firmly on the map. He made headlines recently when he was nominated for a National Dance Award, an accolade that normally alludes musical theatre choreographers, for his surprise hit Drunk at the Bridewell Theatre. 2015 is already looking very busy for Drew with projects including The Sounds of Music (Leicester Curve), Oklahoma (UK Tour), Hairspray (UK Tour) and Bugsy Malone (Lyric Hammersmith).
10. Luke Sheppard
Currently helming the highly anticipated adaptation of Sue Townsend's Adrian Mole - opening at Leicester Curve in March - director Luke Sheppard was also part of the In The Heights production team. Add that to being associate director on Matilda and this young practitioner has had a very bright start to his career.
11. Laura Jane Matthewson
Recipient of the 2014 Evening Standard Emerging Talent Award, Laura Jane burst onto the scene with a stunning and widely acclaimed performance in Dogfight at the Southwark Playhouse last year. We're not sure quite what she's planning to do next, but we'll be first in line to buy tickets for it.
12. Blanche McIntyre
As You Like It at the Globe, a UK tour of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia and a "radical" new version of The Oresteia trilogy at HOME are just some of the projects you can look forward to from this young director. Amazing progress from someone who had her first paid directing job in 2012!
13. Barney Norris
When every theatre in London and the South West turned down his play, Barney set up his own company and kept plugging away. Eventually Visitors was taken on by the Arcola before transferring to the Bush and yesterday Norris picked up the Critics' Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright. Barney told us his next play with Up In Arms will be set in a pub he used to work in and will be coming this autumn, we're looking forward to it already.
14. Phoebe Fox
RADA graduate Fox's previous credits include A Month in the Country (Chichester Festival Theatre), The Acid Test (Royal Court) and There is a War (National Theatre) but she found her limelight in one of last year's standout productions, the Young Vic production of A View From the Bridge starring Mark Strong and Nicola Walker, with Henry Hitchings of the Evening Standard saying she was "brilliant as an ingénue who turns into a rebel". Didn't see it the first time round? Fear not, it transfers to the Wyndham's Theatre next month.
15. Tom O'Connell
Having trained as a producer at Fiery Angel, funded by the Stage One new producers scheme, Tom has gone on to produce the critically acclaimed production of Jonathan Harvey's Beautiful Thing directed by Nikolai Foster at the Arts Theatre and on tour. For a producer under the age of 30 he has a pretty impressive resume, through his own company QNQ, his current productions include Ghost Stories (Arts Theatre, West End), The King's Speech (UK Tour) and Hairspray the musical (UK Tour), and we hear rumours he has something big coming up in Chichester later in the year and a new family musical with McFly.
Who are your tips to look out for in theatre this year? Let us know in the comments below.