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10 musical theatre performers who we'd like to see do more plays

They're some of our most talented performers but often they get pigeonholed in musical theatre productions

Zizi Strallen, David Bedella and Rachel John
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Actors are often telling us that they feel pigeonholed in musical theatre, unable to even be seen for auditions for straight plays. But with performers like Rosalie Craig, Janie Dee and Giles Terera proving these barriers can be broken down, we've listed ten actors that we'd love to see in more plays.




1. Evelyn Hoskins

Evelyn Hoskins
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Evelyn's been one of our favourite musical theatre actresses since her barnstorming performance in Carrie at Southwark Playhouse (revival please!?), but her recent turn in Mayfly at the Orange Tree has whet our appetite to see her in more non-singing roles.


2. Michael Xavier

Michael Xavier
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

We've swooned over his Joe Gillis, Gaylord and Captain von Trapp, now we think it's about time we got the chance to marvel at his Macbeth. The two-time Olivier Award-nominated actor dabbled with some Shakespeare back in 2015 when he starred in Trevor Nunn's The War of the Roses, so it's about time he dusted off his RP once more.


3. Rachel John

Rachel John
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Time after time Rachel has dazzled us with her performances in productions such as We Will Rock You, Memphis and The Bodyguard, but none more so than her current, Olivier Award-nominated, incumbency – Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton. So we know she can belt, swoon and rap, but can she deliver a Stoppard monologue? We're guessing hell yeah.


4. Zizi Strallen

Zizi Strallen
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Zizi's current role, as Fran in Strictly Ballroom has further cemented her standing as one of the best comedy actresses in musical theatreland, previously proven in her performances as Mary Poppins, Penny Pingleton in Hairspray and Mona Lipschitz in Chicago, but she can do serious bloody well, too (see: Follies, The Car Man, Merrily We Roll Along), and it would be nice to see her get the chance to take on a meaty role in a play.


5. David Bedella

David Bedella
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

He made us howl in Jerry Springer and bawl in In the Heights, now we want David and his Olivier Award statue to come back to London and star in a drama please. Also, our collective mind was blown while researching this article to find out that Mr Bedella has narrated several voices on the UK and US versions of Thomas the Tank Engine! We need those dulcet tones back on our stage please.


6. Laura Pitt-Pulford

Laura Pitt-Pulford
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

A common misconception is that musical theatre performers are all about chorus lines and jazz hands, and Laura is someone who embodies the exact opposite of this. Recent performances in Flowers For Mrs Harris, Side Show and Nell Gwyn have shown her to be a nuanced, touching and intelligent actress. Her most recent acting credit was in a play – The Grönholm Method at the Menier – and we're looking forward to seeing some more from this Olivier-nominee.


7. Carly Bawden

Carly Bawden
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Last year, not many musical performances moved us as much as Carly's in Romantics Anonymous, she's also about to appear in the hotly anticipated Sylvia at the Old Vic, which we CAN'T WAIT for. But, while her CV does feature some straight theatre including Twelfth Night (at the Globe no less) and several outings with Kneehigh (we're seeing an Emma Rice connection), we'd quite like to see her take on a meaty lead role in a play – especially as 2015's McQueen wasn't the best vehicle for her, to say the least.


8. Sharon D Clarke

Sharon D Clarke
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

She's best known for her roles in We Will Rock You, Ghost and Caroline, Or Change – a performance she'll reprise in the West End later this year – but one of the last times she stepped out in a play – in James Baldwin's The Amen Corner at the National – she only went and won Best Supporting Actress at the 2014 Olivier Awards. A good enough reason as any we'd say.


9. Victoria Hamilton–Barritt

Victoria Hamilton-Barritt
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Anyone that saw Victoria's performance as Daniela in Lin-Manuel Miranda's In the Heights will attest to the fact that she is not only a fabulous singer and dancer but a brilliant actress too – the kind of performer who can make you wet yourself crying and laughing with the same line delivery.


10. Simon Lipkin

Simon Lipkin
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Simon is 100 per cent one of the funniest actors working in the West End today. His roles include Nicky/Trekkie as part of the original London cast of Avenue Q, the original London cast of Rock of Ages, and the original London cast of I Can't Sing! – he clearly likes playing roles first so James Graham, if you're listening, please write a role for Simon...