WhatsOnStage Logo
Home link

10 theatre faces to look out for in 2017

Write these names down, you'll be hearing a lot about them next year

1. Roy Alexander Weise

Roy Alexander Weise
© Rob Logan

Winner of this year's James Menzies-Kitchen directors' award, Weise joins previous winners including Thea Sharrock and Polly Findlay. His subsequent production of Katori Hall's The Mountaintop was heralded as emotional and powerful by Matt Trueman in his review for WhatsOnStage. In 2017 he's already signed up to direct Marius von Mayenburg's comedy The Ugly One at Park Theatre and we're sure his year will be a busy one.

2. Paul Taylor Mills

Paul Taylor Mills
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

After several years of producing musicals at Southwark Playhouse and beyond - including Carrie, Side Show and the Olivier Award-winning In the Heights - Andrew Lloyd Webber has entrusted Mills with the artistic directorship of his new venue, The Other Palace. His first season includes a star-studded production of The Wild Party, a new musical adaptation of Federico Fellini's La Strada and a new piece from Duncan Sheik called Whisper House.

3. Emma Rice

Emma Rice takes over the Globe from April

Rice has yet to elaborate on the circumstances surrounding her shock resignation from Shakespeare's Globe in October, so 2017 could see her shed more light on the situation. Either way it will be an interesting year for the director as she mounts her final productions at the venue including Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night. Where will she go next? Only time will tell.

4. Tamara Lawrance

Tamara Lawrance
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

After graduating from RADA last year, Lawrence made her professional stage debut in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom at the National Theatre, but she made her biggest impression this year in Anthony Neilson's devised piece, Unreachable at the Royal Court. Her performance as actress Natasha was described as 'extraordinary' (Sarah Crompton, WhatsOnStage), 'superb' (Natasha Tripney, The Stage), and having 'astonishing candour and directness' (Michael Billington, Guardian). She returns to the National in 2017 to star alongside Tamsin Greig in Twelfth Night, which should not be missed.

5. Dan Gillespie Sells

Dan Gillespie Sells
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

The Feeling frontman will make his first foray into the world of theatre next year when his musical Everybody's Talking About Jamie receives its world premiere at the Sheffield Crucible in February. If a recording released exclusively to WhatsOnStage is anything to go by, Gillespie Sells could be a big new voice in musical theatre.

6. Clare Halse

Clare Halse

This Arts Ed graduate already has several West End credits to her name including Wicked, Shrek and Chichester Festival Theatre's acclaimed production of Gypsy. But 2017 is set to be her year as she takes on the coveted role of Peggy Sawyer in the revival of 42nd Street at Theatre Royal Drury Lane. In the musical's 1984 West End premiere, a young Catherine Zeta Jones played Sawyer, and she's done quite well since then...

7. Adam J Bernard

Adam J Bernard
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Stepping in to the shoes of Eddie Murphy is no mean feat, but Bernard has won plaudits for his portrayal of Jimmy Early in the West End premiere of Dreamgirls. He's already been nominated for a WhatsOnStage Award and we fully expect to see him do well at the Oliviers too.

8. Stuart Slade

Stuart Slade
© Dan Pick

Playwright Slade made a name for himself this year with his play BU21 at Theatre503. Following six people in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, Slade's second play received critical acclaim with Matt Trueman declaring it a 'daring feat of writing' and a 'theatrical joyride that gives formal logic the finger.' It transfers to Trafalgar Studios in January, in the meantime we'll be waiting with bated breath to hear what he's doing next.

9. Natalie McQueen

Natalie McQueen

McQueen's previous theatre credits include understudying Kerry Ellis in Wicked, playing Kerry Ellis' alternate in Murder Ballad and playing alongside Kerry Ellis in the upcoming tour of Wonderland. There seems to be a theme to McQueen's career, but after seeing her in the Frank Wildhorn concert in Manchester last month, we're certain 2017 is going to be the year she steps into her own spotlight.

10. Andrew Polec

Andrew Polec

If you're going to put Meat Loaf's hits on stage, you're going to need to find someone pretty special to take centre stage. Step forward American performer Andrew Polec, who was apparently cast in Bat Out of Hell due to his ridiculously vast range. Don't believe us? Click here to revisit our Facebook Live from the show's launch.