10 theatre faces to watch out for in 2019
You will likely be seeing a lot of these faces in 2019
There's an undeniable wealth of theatrical talent coming up at the moment, which makes putting a list like the one below together so much harder. This is, of course, the tip of the iceberg and is a mixture of well-known and lesser-known names that we think we might be hearing a whole lot more of in 2019. There's the odd rogue-card thrown in for good measure, of course.
Felix Mosse has had a few solid credits in the likes of Book of Mormon or Les Mis, but he really stepped into the limelight earlier this year when he appeared as Alex in Jonathan O'Boyle's five-star revival of Aspects of Love at Hope Mill Theatre. Following in the footsteps of Michael Ball is no easy feat, but Mosse puts his own spin on the central role, transforming booming iconic number "Love Changes Everything" into an intimate, melancholic tune. It's a performance you can witness when the show transfers at Southwark Playhouse from 7 January.
An East End-born actress and writer, Nicôle Lecky has been brewing several projects for a while now, including film writing and directing ones, such as 2017's The Moor Girl. After an initial outing at the Yard Theatre as part of First Drafts, Lecky's monologue Superhoe was developed by Talawa Theatre company. It had a script-in-hand reading in 2018 and the Royal Court made it part of its 2019 upstairs programme. Lecky also stars in the piece, which follows the 24 year-old Sasha from Plaistow who wants to be a singer and rapper. There seems to be growing buzz around Lecky, so we can't wait to see what Superhoe is like.
Yes we know, we know, Ian McKellen is a name almost everyone on the planet knows, but we really think 2019 is going to be his year, thanks mostly to his huge solo tour which kicks off in January. The award-winning actor and activist will appear at venues large and small up and down the country, with proceeds from appearances going straight back to the spaces themselves. A brilliant initiative from a man who cares passionately about the welfare of UK theatres.
Danusia Samal has some solid credits at venues like the Globe and the Royal Court, but 2019 will see her making great strides both as a playwright and as a performer. Earlier this year she won the coveted Theatre503 International Playwrighting Award, with her play Out of Sorts selected from over 2055 scripts submitted from 49 countries and will be staged in 2019. On the acting side of things, she can be seen soon as Mary opposite Owen Teale in Caroline Steinbeis' revival of Rutherford and Son at Sheffield Crucible. We have a feeling that might only be the first role of many over the next 12 months.
Nancy Medina won 2018's RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award, which has a formidably rigorous selection process overseen by Trevor Nunn. Medina announced she would be directing August Willson's Two Trains Running for the Royal and Derngate and English Touring Theatre, which sounds like a very great idea. Medina's previous work includes winning the Genesis Future Director Award for the Young Vic in 2017, so we have an inkling her work will likely be all over your stages in a few years.
Zach Wyatt graduated last June and in terms of stage debuts they don't come much weightier than this – starring opposite Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams in the UK premiere of I And You at Hampstead Theatre in October. That's right – the UK premiere of an award-winning two-hander in the main space of a major London venue. But Wyatt was a pretty great revelation, at ease both in his performance as the tragic, poetry-loving Anthony and in building up a nice rapport with his opposite performer. We're excited to see where he heads next!
The next few months are going to be pretty great for Lynette Linton – after directing the five-star Sweat (which is still running at Donmar Warehouse), she now turns her attention to Richard II, co-directing a new production with Adjoa Andoh at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, notably performed by the first-ever company of women of colour in a Shakespeare play on a major UK stage. But following that, she takes charge of the Bush Theatre in west London as new artistic director, replacing Madani Younis who hops over to the Southbank. Her programming hasn't been announced yet, but we're already excited.
It may feel as though Gabriela García has been plucked out of thin air to play one of the lead roles in one of the most exciting projects already announced for 2019, but that's not strictly true. García's turn as Maria in the Royal Exchange's West Side Story follows her work as Nina in In the Heights at King's Cross Theatre and as Vanessa/Cover Fran in Strictly Ballroom in the West End. So she can definitely sing and dance and this may just be her breakout role.
Phillip Taratula, Kevin Zak, Josh Lamon and Keith Varney
No, this isn't cheating, we have four names in one here because we think these four may yet prove to be star musical theatre collaborators. Or they will if their project at the newly announced musical theatre festival MT Fest is anything to go by. Bloody Bloody Jessica Fletcher is based on a crime thriller and is one of the many intriguing projects in the festival this year. The show has already had an outing or two off-Broadway and between the four talents, there's a whole mountain of experience.
When it was announced that Emilia was getting a very well deserved West End transfer, the WhatsOnStage offices heaved a collected contented sigh. Most of the cast are returning with the show, apart from the excellent Leah Harvey, who played Emilia 1. It is the 24 year-old Saffron Coomber who is replacing her and who brings lots of TV experience with her – she has done stints on EastEnders, Cuffs and even starred in the 2014 film Electricity with Agyness Deyn. Her stage work is building – roles at Shakespeare's Globe and the Yard feature – but we have a feeling Emilia might make her ever more visible to the theatre industry. Keep a look out for her movements in 2019.