Lily Allen

Which Stars Are Treading the Boards in 2021?

Culture /


Celebrities taking to the stage

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It’s always exciting seeing an A-lister on the stage. Live performance not only allows starstruck audiences to see famous faces in the flesh, it gives on-screen actors – or sometimes singers – the chance to show a different side to their craft. As theatre comes back to life post-lockdown, we’re seeing a whole host of stars treading the boards – from The Crown’s Emma Corrin to the legendary Ian McKellen. Below we highlight the plays featuring celebrities in 2021.

Musicals To Book Now / Best London Theatre 2021

Stars Treading the Boards in 2021

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Amy Adams, The Glass Menagerie

Amy Adams, The Glass Menagerie

Six-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams will make her West End debut in a revival of The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Wililams. The Hollywood star has said she’s ‘honoured and excited’ to be playing the character of Amanda Wingfield in the play, which is being directed by Jeremy Herrin – the name behind the stage adaptations of the Wolf Hall trilogy.

From 31 May 2022, The Duke of York’s Theatre. thedukeofyorks.com

Adrian Dunbar

Adrian Dunbar, Hamlet

Irish actor Adrian Dunbar has had a successful acting career spanning 30 years – yet somewhat unusually, his fame has peaked at the age of 62. Dunbar’s role as the gaffer Ted Hastings in BBC drama Line of Duty propelled him to household name status, best known for his witty one liners and Northern Irish catchphrases. This September, though, fans will be able to see Dunbar in a different light, as he’s set to join Cush Jumbo in the Young Vic’s theatre production of Hamlet. He’ll be playing the dual role of Claudius and the Ghost in the play, which has been postponed for over a year. This marks a long-awaited return to theatre for the actor, who has starred in productions including The Danton Affair at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the West End adaptation of Tracey Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring.

25 September – 13 November 2021, Young Vic. youngvic.org

Image: BBC Pictures

2:22 - A Ghost Story

Lily Allen, 2:22 – A Ghost Story

She’s best known for her candid lyrics and catchy tunes, but this summer we’ll be seeing a different side to Lily Allen. The singer will make her stage debut as Jenny in 2:22 – A Ghost Story, a new supernatural thriller exploring that age-old question: do ghosts exist? Written by Danny Robbins – best known for his horror podcast The Battersea Poltergeist – the play tells the story of Jenny, who believes her new home is haunted after hearing a strange sound at 2:22am each night. One evening at a dinner party, Jenny, her husband (Hadley Fraser) and two friends decide to stay up until the time in question to see if they can solve the mystery. Prepare to be on the edge of your seat – Robins describes the show as ‘bloody scary’, and we’re told there’s a big surprise awaiting, which audiences are asked to keep quiet afterwards.

From 3 August, Noël Coward Theatre. 222aghoststory.com

Saiorse Ronan

Saoirse Ronan, The Tragedy of Macbeth

A retelling of Macbeth will give the Shakespearian tragedy a feminist edge – and who better to spearhead it than four-time Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan? The play will see the Irish actor stepping into the blood-stained shoes of Lady Macbeth, joined on stage by James McArdle, her co-star in the 2018 film Mary Queen of Scots. Directed by Yaël Farber, the show will present a ‘more equivalent relationship’ between the Macbeths than most adaptations, which tend to portray Lady Macbeth as the chief villain. Though this will be Ronan’s UK stage debut, she garnered rave reviews for her performance as Abigail Williams in a 2016 staging of The Crucible on Broadway.

25 September – 20 November 2021, Almeida Theatre. almeida.co.uk

Image from Instagram

Eddie Redmayne

Eddie Redmayne, Cabaret

He’s spent the past decade starring in blockbuster movies, but this winter Eddie Redmayne will turn his attention back to the West End for a new production of Cabaret. He’ll be reviving his role as the Emcee which he first played 20 years ago in an Edinburgh fringe production, starring alongside Jessie Buckley as showgirl Sally Bowles. Set in Berlin on the cusp of the 1930s, the hit musical charts the friendship between Sally and writer Cliff Bradshaw, with the plot revolving around a cabaret venue called the Kit Kat Club.

From 15 November, Playhouse Theatre. theplayhousetheatre.co.uk

Ian McKellen

Ian McKellen, Hamlet

At the ripe age of 82, Sir Ian McKellen is helping to rescue British theatre from its post-Covid gloom by taking on one of Shakespeare’s most famous characters: Hamlet. The show at Theatre Royal Windsor has just been extended for an extra three weeks, meaning fans have until the end of September to see the Lord of the Rings star reprise the part he first played 50 years ago. Directed by Sean Mathias, this version of Hamlet is gender, age and colour blind, with Francesca Annis playing the ghost of Hamlet’s father and EastEnders actress Emmanuella Cole as Laertes. ‘Hamlet is quite athletic’, McKellen told The Times, ‘so I am doing a few lunges’.

Until 25 September, Theatre Royal Windsor. theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk

Blithe Spirit play, London

Jennifer Saunders, Blithe Spirit

First performed in 1941, Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit was written to offer some much-needed comedic relief during the Second World War. Perhaps it will have a similar effect post-lockdown at its upcoming run at the Harold Pinter Theatre, where Jennifer Saunders will return as eccentric clairvoyant Madame Arcati. We saw a snippet of Saunders in action at Theatre Royal Bath in 2019, where the play managed a short run before the pandemic hit. The West End run stars original cast members Geoffrey Streatfeild and Lisa Dillon as Charles and Ruth Condomine, a couple literally haunted by a past relationship when a medium (Saunders) conjures up the ghost of Charles’ first wife at a séance. Once again, sure to be absolutely fabulous.

16 September – 6 November 2021, Harold Pinter Theatre. haroldpintertheatre.co.uk