BBC News

Stars' theatre tips for 2011

By Tim Masters
Entertainment correspondent, BBC News

image captionSheridan Smith is looking forward to several musicals in 2011

What are the stars of the London stage looking forward to seeing in 2011? We asked them for their thoughts on next year's hot tickets, and their highlights of 2010.

Legally Blonde star Sheridan Smith admits she's found it hard to see much in 2010 because she's being doing eight shows a week. But once she leaves the musical in January she plans to hit the West End.

"That's one thing I'm really looking forward to - to see other shows," she told the BBC at the What's On Stage nominations party earlier this month.

"I love Priscilla Queen of the Desert because it's a big camp-fest and it's so up my street. I'm really looking forward to Ghost The Musical next year and The Wizard of Oz I think is going to be a big hit. Shrek The Musical's going to be great, but it's Ghost that I'm really excited about."

Tamzin Outhwaite, who starred in 2010's Sweet Charity, is also planning a tour of West End shows.

image captionTamzin Outhwaite's Sweet Charity, transferred to the West End from the Menier Chocolate Factory

"When you're in the theatre you miss everyone else's stuff," she says. "I saw Legally Blonde on Broadway and it was one of the best things I'd ever seen, and I know how brilliant Sheridan is - so I really want to go and see that.

"I think Shrek will be a big extravaganza - it's a classic. I'm really looking forward to Spelling Bee at the Donmar Warehouse , and Matilda at the RSC.

"I love the big shows. But it's often the smaller theatres that surprise you the most."

Danielle Hope, winner of the BBC TV's Over the Rainbow, has just begun rehearsals for The Wizard at Oz at the London Palladium. She'll play Dorothy opposite Michael Crawford (the Wizard) when previews start in February.

"Shrek is coming in from Broadway," she says enthusiastically.

"I'm really excited for Spelling Bee at the Donmar. I've always been a big fan of Spelling Bee and the Donmar is possibly one of the most beautiful theatres ever. I'd love to perform there."

She adds: "This year, I've seen everything now - every play and musical. It's been great. I knew that once I started Oz I wouldn't be able to go."

image captionDanielle Hope is in rehearsals for The Wizard of Oz

Can she let us into any secrets about the Wizard of Oz production?

"I have been taking body-popping lessons - which is a bit different - so who knows if a popping Dorothy will make it into the final show!"

Her Oz co-star Hannah Waddingham - who plays the Wicked Witch of the West - says: "I am going to see one of my best friends Jenna Russell in Season's Greetings at the National.

"Highlights this year were Earthquakes in London at the National and the fabulous Passion at the Donmar. It was just beautiful - I just couldn't stop crying for about 10 minutes afterwards."

David Suchet, who starred in the critically acclaimed Arthur Miller play All My Sons, says he is looking forward to Sir Peter Hall's Twelfth Night at the National.

He adds: "I'm actually looking forward to the chance to go to the theatre, because I've been a part of London's culture, so my big event will be going out and enjoying the culture."

image captionDavid Suchet is looking forward to catching up with culture in 2011

Sharon Small, who is the lead in Men Should Weep, currently at the National, rates JT Rogers' political thriller about Afghanistan Blood and Gifts as one of her favourite plays of 2010.

"I loved it," she says. "I didn't expect to, I thought it was going to be a bit of a history lesson, but I thought it was funny and beautifully performed and informative."

And she already has viewing plans for 2011, including Danny Boyle's Frankenstein at the National (with Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller), Shrek and The Wizard of Oz.

Meanwhile Anya Reiss, the teenager who made her writing debut at the Royal Court with Spur of the Moment, rates Laura Wade's Posh as her highlight of 2010.

"It was the way she handled that enormous cast, every voice was so different even though they all came from the same background. It was a masterclass in writing."

Lesley Manville, one of the stars of the Mike Leigh film Another Year, says: "I loved Hamlet at the National - Rory Kinnear was particularly brilliant."

Manville will be returning to the National herself in autumn 2011 in an improvised play, directed by Leigh.

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