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West End leading ladies

stageybenny
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Posted: 2/23/13 at 12:35pm
Out of your opinion, who are the leading names in musical theatre at the moment?

You have your obvious ones like Shona White, Cassidy Janson etc along with the TV contestants like Helena Blackman, Amy Diamond, Connie Fisher etc.

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ClapYo'Hands
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Posted: 2/23/13 at 12:50pm
What do you think makes these women the "leading names in musical theatre at the moment"?
stageybenny
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Posted: 2/23/13 at 01:13pm
High calibre performer, one that people talk about and want to see in a show. Like your Julie Athertons and Sabrina Aloueche's.
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bob8rich
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Posted: 2/23/13 at 02:31pm
As I said in the other thread about leading men, it's all totally subjective and everyone will have different opinions about who are the "best" leading ladies. But if we're having some fun with everyone stating their opinions and choices........

IMO Louise Dearman is a WORLD CLASS leading lady and possibly heads the pack right now. But we have a number of other phenomenally talented leading ladies in the West End - such as Imelda Staunton, Lauren Samuels, Emma Williams, Jenna Russell, Hannah Waddingham, Gina Beck, Julie Atherton and the awesome triple threat Victoria Hamilton Barritt.

Very much knocking on the door for major West End diva status is the amazing Rebecca Trehearn. Also, there is a fantastic lady by the name of Sarah Galbraith - who played Christine in "Phantom" in Vegas, was in the Broadway cast of "Phantom" and now lives in London, having recently played Rita in Steel Pier at the Union Theatre and is currently blowing audiences away at the Union as Florence in Chess. Get ready for her to take the West End by storm soon.

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Posted: 2/23/13 at 05:10pm
Going by your definition i would say none of the ones you mention stageybunny fit that bill. The ones you mention havent had a big enough career to warrant leading lady status and the reality show contestants (especially the ones you mention) arent really known. I assume you mean outside the very small pool of theatre geeks.

There are many talented people in the West End, but it takes more than that to be a leading lady.

If you look at who is often cast in a leading role and who MAY be known to people outside of the theatre world Id say Hannah Waddingham and Jenna Russell. Scarlett Strallen and Summer Strallen are bordering that. Alexia Khadime seems to be working regularly and in big supporting (and in Wicked leading) roles. Sheridan Smith is an obvious one as she is starting to have name recognition as well.

Emma Williams is someone who should have had a much bigger career than she has had

Stewart A
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Posted: 2/23/13 at 05:33pm
As good as some of the names mentioned are, and I have seen several of them on stage, I don't think any of them are big enough names to get bums on seats or are known outside of musical theatre. I think the Strallen sisters, Hannah Waddigham, Jenna Russell, Sierra Boggess and Louise Dearman, to name a few, have good careers ahead of them and will be on the west end stage for years to come.

I have seen Kerry Ellis billed as the First Lady of the West End but as much as I like her I don't think she merits that title. Ruthie Henshall is definitely a leading lady even though she hasn't done a new show for a while and so is Maria Friedman and of course so was Elaine Paige for many years and she definitely deserved the title.

Sadly I think Connie Fisher's west end career is over and it was after the Sound Of Music as that's probably all she will ever be known for.
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TBFL
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Posted: 2/23/13 at 07:31pm
Joanna Riding and Sally Ann Triplett
peggyb2
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Posted: 2/24/13 at 05:43am
If we are talking future West End leading ladies I have only heard very positive things about the alternate Christine in the touring Phantom:Olivia Brereton.

Updated On: 2/24/13 at 05:43 AM
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ClapYo'Hands
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Posted: 2/24/13 at 06:29am
Yes, two that come to mind when thinking of future names are two Christine actresses: Olivia Brereton and Katy Treharne.
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CONAries
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Posted: 2/24/13 at 07:14am
Kerry Ellis, Alexia Khadime, Gina Beck, Scarlett & Summer Strallen, Hannah Waddingham, Jenna Russel, Louise Dearman, Julie Atherton and Sheridan Smith are the ones I would define as the current leading ladies, though, even some of those arent as in-demand as they were 5 years ago.
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Posted: 2/24/13 at 08:26am
i would class julie atherton as leading lady as aside avenue q shes not really had that big leading role yet
AnythingGoes23
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Posted: 2/24/13 at 11:41am
Sadly none mentioned are classed as West End leading ladies at all.

The Strallen sisters can probably just about scrap being classed as Leading ladies nowadays.

To be dubbed as a Leading lady generally means they always carry the show/have the less, names like Julie Atherton, Louise Dearman they aren't there yet.

Currently Sheridan Smith is probably a very bankable Leading Lady. Amanda Holden wouldn't consider anything except lead female and given the right role would lead a show. Obvious ones like Dench, Redgrave etc

Jenna Russell, Hannah Waddingham, Sally Ann Triplett based on past probably would ony consider lead, but I wouldn't say are bankable, which is a shame as 50 years ago composers and producers would be chomping at the bit for them.
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theatrepaul
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Posted: 2/24/13 at 03:22pm
Hannah Waddingham, Jenna Russell, Jo Riding & Sally Ann Triplett all spring to mind for me.
Theatrefan2
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Posted: 2/25/13 at 09:26pm
How can everyone omit Rachel Tucker. She is amazing.
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bob8rich
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Posted: 2/26/13 at 11:04am
Reading through the threads up to this point gave rise to some thoughts:

Obviously my opinions on this are just that - my opinions - but I would base my rating of an actress's ability on her talent, not her bankability. Plus - every single show has a leading lady in its cast, so by definition anyone who has played a leading female role is a "leading lady". How great a leading lady she is, of course, is down to each person's personal opinion.

Also I base my ratings on an actress's ability to lead a company - and all the ladies I mentioned previously have proven they can do that as well as proven their immense vocal and dramatic talent. (Just ask anyone who's been lucky enough to work with them.)

Lastly - yes, Theatrefan2 - Rachel is indeed an amazing leading lady!

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Updated On: 2/26/13 at 11:04 AM
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Phantom of London
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Posted: 2/26/13 at 03:30pm
I agree with Bob, it is talent for me that makes star quality for me, not the other star quality that is often manufactured by the media!!!

would it be possible to offer Haydn Gwynne, Rosaline Craig, Katherine Kingsley, Caroline O'Connor, Lea Salonga, Patina Millar, Clare Foster, Laura Pitt-Pulford, Katherine Evans, Leanne Jones Samantha Spiro, Tracie Bennett and Laura Michelle Kelly to the list?

I could also offer the amazing actresses that play the Matilda's, who are simply astonishing what they do for one, so young.
AnythingGoes23
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Posted: 2/26/13 at 03:35pm
The Matilda's can only lead Matilda because of the role. I'd wait another 20 years to see of those little darlings become Leading Lady material!

I'd go along with Tracy Bennett, Hayden Gwendoline, possibly,Laura Michelle Kelly...

Clare Foster no way, she hasn't lead a hugely commercial west end show yet, Leanne Jones, hugely talented but I'd pop her in with the Matilda's, she hasn't proven herself outside of Hairspray which is now 5 years ago. Katherine Kingsly, Laura PittPulford same as Clar Foster in my view.
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bob8rich
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Posted: 2/26/13 at 04:32pm
God - thanks POL - how on earth did I forget Tracie Bennett?! She's been one of the West End's greatest female performers for years! (Caroline O'Connor too!)

And, AnythingGoes - Laura Pitt-Pulford is astonishing. Her performances in Parade & Mack & Mabel are two the most incredible performances I've seen in the last two years.

In fact, the UK is blessed with so many stunning leading ladies.

THEATRE 2015: The Mikado**** Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown***** The Grand Tour**** Charlotte Bradford: The Last 7 Years (cabaret)**** Bat Boy**** City Of Angels***** Assassins***** A Little Night Music***** Jesus Christ Superstar (tour,Cardiff)**** The Goodbye Girl**** Anything Goes (tour, Wimbledon)**** She Loves Me**** Whistle Down The Wind***** Live & Acoustic**** Charles Strouse (cabaret)**** The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole (Curve, Leicester)****. Miss Saigon***** Spend,Spend, Spend**** Sweeney Todd (ENO)***** News Review**** Songs From The Playground**** Apartment 40C***** Follies***** The Verb, To Love*** Portia Coughlan**** Sweeney Todd (Pie Shop)***** Closer To Heaven*** Carrie*****
Updated On: 2/26/13 at 04:32 PM
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Posted: 2/26/13 at 05:04pm
I think you can class Leading Lady/Man as either

1 - the lead of a production

or

2 - An actor/actress of renown.

Personally I opt for the latter. After all in Hollywood (for example) you wouldnt be classed as a leading lady without a decent amount of work behind you. Its that something extra. Its like when people say so and so should win Best Actress because their voice is amazing...er no...it takes more than just a voice!

So for me I would have (and by the way these arnt because I am fans of these people, often its the opposite)

Hannah Waddingham
Tracie Bennet
Jenna Russell
Joanna Riding
Sally Ann Triplet
Sheridan Smith
Caroline O Connor
Ruthie Henshall
Maria Friedman
Scarlett Strallen
Summer Strallen (maybe)

Up and comers
Gina Beck
Alexia Khadime
Samantha Barks
Louise Dearman
Emma Williams
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bob8rich
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Posted: 2/26/13 at 05:25pm
I know, as I've said before, that these things are always personal opinions. But I do find it illuminating that Louise Dearman and Gina Beck are classed as "up and coming" lol

Both their CVs are far more illustrious than most others in the list. Lou is not only the ONLY actress to play both Glinda and Elphaba, but she also played Eve in last year's prestigious West End concert of Children Of Eden, she played the female lead in 3 major UK tours (Evita, Guys And Dolls and Jekyll And Hyde) and has recorded two solo albums.

And Gina has had lengthy runs playing what are probably two of the three premier roles for women in modern musical theatre - Christine and Glinda.

And both of these amazing and lovely ladies are most certainly bona fide leaders of a company (ask anyone in the cast of Wicked).


THEATRE 2015: The Mikado**** Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown***** The Grand Tour**** Charlotte Bradford: The Last 7 Years (cabaret)**** Bat Boy**** City Of Angels***** Assassins***** A Little Night Music***** Jesus Christ Superstar (tour,Cardiff)**** The Goodbye Girl**** Anything Goes (tour, Wimbledon)**** She Loves Me**** Whistle Down The Wind***** Live & Acoustic**** Charles Strouse (cabaret)**** The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole (Curve, Leicester)****. Miss Saigon***** Spend,Spend, Spend**** Sweeney Todd (ENO)***** News Review**** Songs From The Playground**** Apartment 40C***** Follies***** The Verb, To Love*** Portia Coughlan**** Sweeney Todd (Pie Shop)***** Closer To Heaven*** Carrie*****
holio
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Posted: 2/26/13 at 06:11pm
Kerry Ellis and Samantha Barks definitely.
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Posted: 2/27/13 at 04:57am
The reason I put up and coming is just its early in their careers. Gina with two big lead roles. It will be interesting to see where they go next and the longevity of their careers.

Look at Laura Michelle Kelly, started so promising then nothing. And I suspect Kerry Ellis will go the same way, she seems so desperate for solo fame she is missing out on potential lead roles

I had forgotten about Louise doing Guys and Dolls though.
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OneDayMore1979
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Posted: 2/28/13 at 04:39am
Louise will forever work her voice is so bankable, but does she have what it takes to break through as a star? The problem is now the UK no longer has the press machines behind them to make stars like they did in the 80s and 90s with the likes of Sarah Brightman, Elaine Paige and Michael Ball etc.

The person who almost made it was Ruthie Henshall, but stupidly (In my mind) left at the peak of her carer to go stateside and try and make it there, only to come back to the West End some years later in the flop Peggy Sue Got Married. She had it all a list of top leading roles at the time a couple of great albums solo shows at the Royal Albert Hall and Royal Festival Hall as well as appearing in that awful TV Show The Sound Of Musicals with John Barrowman. Her come back show Marguerite, was not a commercial hit and now finds herself in minor concert work so maybe she no longer wants the fame and would prefer to raise her family.

Anna-Jane Casey, is a great west end talent that should have made more of a name for herself. One of the West End's triple threats who is able to turn her hand at almost any role she's played the title role in Piaf, Sweet Charity and Mack and Mabel. But having turned 40 she's now in that age range of having to wait for the bigger roles for the older performer as is Ruthie.

Kerry Ellis should decide on which direction she wants to go, she could be one of the great west end and broadway talents but at the moment only seems to be in the shadow of Brian May. Why be in the shadow of someone when you have the talent to shine. She needs the platform to a new audience and really should have gone for I'd Do Anything (a role she would have won, having gone on to appear in the show) but would have been seen weekly by millions of TV Viewers.
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Posted: 2/28/13 at 05:24am
Laura Michelle Kelly and Kerry Ellis tried to do a Ruthie Henshall and Sarah Brightman and pimp herself as a pop star, this is something that I have issues with as I would be just happy to perform in a leading role on stage instead of chasing the holy grail of 'pop stardom', but alas it is a free world.

Incidentally my list were people who have not been mentioned and I am in agreement mostly with other names put forward.

So far we have had:

Shona White
Cassidy Janson
Helena Blackman
Amy Diamond
Connie Fisher
Julie Atherton
Sabrina Aloueche
Imelda Staunton
Lauren Samuels
Emma Williams
Jenna Russell
Hannah Waddingham
Gina Beck
Julie Atherton
Victoria Hamilton Barritt
Rebecca Trehearn
Sarah Galbraith
Scarlett Strallen
Summer Strallen
Sheridan Smith
Alexia Khadime
Sierra Boggess
Louise Dearman
Kerry Ellis
Ruthie Henshall
Maria Friedman
Elaine Paige
Joanna Riding
Sally Anne Tripplett
Olivia Brereton
Katy Treharne
Amanda Holden
Judi Dench
Vanessa Redgrave
Rachel Tucker
Haydn Gwynne
Rosaline Craig
Katherine Kingsley
Caroline O'Connor
Lea Salonga
Patina Millar
Clare Foster
Laura Pitt-Pulford
Katherine Evans
Leanne Jones
Samantha Spiro
Tracie Bennett
Laura Michelle Kelly
Matilda's
Samantha Barks

Theatrefan2
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Posted: 2/28/13 at 03:59pm
Goodness I would not think of so many as a leading lady (or male if it were a list that long). It seems like all chiefs and no indians. To me a true Leading Lady or Man is special and not everyone is.

Updated On: 2/28/13 at 03:59 PM
stageybenny
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Posted: 2/28/13 at 05:45pm
There's some really interesting opinions here. Thanks all.
About to start a new thread on up and coming talent so watch out for it.

I'm gonna throw a few more names in the pot here.

What's your thoughts on people like Lara Pulver, Siobhan Dillon, s simon bowman.

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