Big-name actors to watch in the West End this season

Posted by
Anna Brech
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites

In need of a culture fix this autumn? Get booking as some of Hollywood’s finest luminaries take to the West End stage

A spell on the stage is a must for most serious actors at some point in their careers; no matter how many blockbuster credits they’ve clocked up.

Plays demand a different, more intimate energy from film and TV stars, with all the tension of delivering in the moment. 

From Maisie Williams’ stage debut to Sophie Okonedo’s slant on Shakespeare, come see which high-profile actors are treading the boards in the West End this season - diaries at the ready…

Cate Blanchett makes her National debut

Image credit: Steven Chee

Two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett makes her debut at the National Theatre in When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other, a contemporary drama about sexual desire and its toxic impact on men, women and the roles that they play. 

January 2019, National Theatre

Maisie Williams plays stage for the first time

Image credit: Hampstead Theatre

It may feel surreal seeing Maisie Williams outside her usual territory of bloody medieval feuding, but this fresh offering from Hampstead Theatre is well worth the step change. Williams makes her debut in I and You, a compelling story about a housebound teenager who forges an unlikely friendship with a visiting classmate.

From October, Hampstead Theatre

Gillian Anderson joins forces with Lily James

Image credit: Perou

Image credit: Perou

Lily James takes time out from a hectic filming schedule (including an upcoming Richard Curtis project) to join Hollywood royalty Gillian Anderson in this hotly tipped production of All About Eve. Roll up for an explosive exposé of celebrity culture and the dark side of showbiz. 

February 2019, Noël Coward theatre

Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo take on Shakespeare

Image credit: Johan Persson 

Expect thespian fireworks as heavyweights Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo unite in Antony & Cleopatra. All the usual Shakespeare ingredients - tragedy, treachery, war and passion - are promised in this “triumphant” and “spectacular” stage outing.

 On now, National Theatre

Mel  Giedroyc gets musical

Image credit: Helen Maybanks

The former Bake-Off presenter is without her usual sidekick Sue Perkins for a turn in Stephen Sondheim musical Company. The 30-something male lead is swapped for a woman in this production (played by Rosalie Craig) and Giedroyc takes on the part of one of her married best friends. Broadway hot shot Patti LuPone also stars.

On now, Gielgud Theatre

Jade Anouka plays Shakespeare’s most eloquent female lead

You may recognise Jade Anouka from the ITV drama Trauma (she’ll also appear in Cleaning Up this autumn alongside Sheridan Smith) but the actor has a ream of theatre credits to her name, too. Settle in for a powerful performance as she takes on the lead role of Margaret of Anjou, widow to King Henry VI, in this re-telling of four Shakespeare plays.

On now, Royal Exchange Manchester

Rhys Ifans and Indira Varma play at monarchs

Image credit: Simon Annand

Game of Thrones’ Indira Varma is right at home in this dynastic tragi-comedy, playing the first queen to Rhys Ifans’ bombastic king. With the kingdom falling apart, how will the sovereigns fare in the final hours of his life? Settle in for a riotous ride.

On now, National Theatre

An all-star cast tackle Pinter

Image credit: Getty

Pop along to The Harold Pinter Theatre this season and you’ll be rewarded with an all-star cast unpicking the playwright’s surrealist works.  Keith Allen, Lee Evans, Tamsin Greig and Meera Syal (pictured) will work their chemistry on-stage in Landscape and A Kind  of Alaska. Downton Abbey’s Penelope Wilton will appear in select performances, too.

From October, The Harold Pinter Theatre

Vanessa Redgrave works her magic

Image credit: Simon Annand

A veteran of stage and screen, Vanessa Redgrave is never anything short of captivating. Get set for a stellar performance from her in this re-run of a smash hit Young Vic production. The Inheritance brings a modern-day spin to E. M. Forster’s novel Howard’s End, based around the lives of young, ambitious New Yorkers dealing with the legacy of previous generations.

On now, Noël Coward theatre

Tracy-Ann Oberman steps into the lights

Image credit: Getty

She’s best known for playing Dirty Den’s missus in EastEnders, but Tracy-Ann Oberman gets her teeth into Harold Pinter this winter, with a double billing of his plays Party Time and Celebration. She’s joined by Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet fame and actor Celia Imrie in the bittersweet comedy production.

From December, The Harold Pinter Theatre


Share this article


Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.