From Soap To Stage – theatre performers who have crossed over
It has been announced this week that Theatre legend and TV star Bonnie Langford will soon join the cast of BBC1’s Eastenders. Theatre performers crossing over into TV is not uncommon (and vice versa) and so I thought it would be nice to take a look back at some of the people who have gone from soap to stage (and stage to soap) over the years.
Maria Freidman is a hugely successful theatre actress, best know for playing the Narrator in the 1999 movie-musical Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat. She also starred in the 2004 West End production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical The Woman In White (and on Broadway in 2005). More recently, in 2012, Maria directed the sell out revival of Merrily We Roll Along at the Menier Chocolate Factory (a show she had previously starred in). Maria has had a successful theatre career and starred in many other shows such as Chicago, Ragtime, Passion and Sunday In The Park with George. In late 2014 it was announced that Maria would be joining the cast of Eastenders as Elaine Peacock where she is still performing.
Emma Barton is best know for playing Honey Mitchell in Eastenders. Since leaving the show in 1998 she has toured the UK as Roxie Hart in Chicago and played the role of Dolly in the 2014 National Theatre production of One Man Two Guvnors. From 12 May 2015, Emma will replace Anna-Jane Casey in the West End transfer of Jerry’s Girls at the Jermyn Street Theatre where it will run until 31 May.
Jason Donovan shot to fame as Scott Robinson in the 1986 Australia TV soap Neighbours, where he famously married Kylie Minogue’s character Charlene Mitchell. After leaving the show, he went on to have a string of hit singles with and without Kylie Minogue. In 1991 Jason took the lead role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the London Palladium. In 1998 he played Frank N. Furter in the UK tour of The Rocky Horror Show and then in 2004 Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Other productions he has appeared in include Sweeney Todd (UK tour 2006) and Priscilla Queen of the Desert (2009 Palace Theatre and 2013 UK tour). Jason is currently on tour around the UK in The Kings Speech.
Hayley Tamaddon first broke into the big time as Del Dingle in Emmerdale, a role she played on TV from 2005-2007. She won the fifth series of Dancing on Ice and later returned to compete in the show in 2014 where she made it to the finals. Over the years, Hayley has had a number of different theatre roles including Frenchie in Grease, Diana Morales in A Chorus Line, Janet in The Rocky Horror Show and my personal favourite, the Lady of the Lake in Spamalot. In December 2013 it was announced that Hayley would be joining the cast of another popular TV soap, Coronation Street where she is still playing the role of Andrea Beckett.
Charlie Brooks is the Eastenders bad girl Janine Butcher who starred in the show on and off from 1999-2014. In 2007, during a break from the show, she appeared in Our a Country’s Good at the Liverpool Playhouse. Charlie is touring the UK right now as Sandra in Jonathan Harvey’s play Beautiful Thing.
Claire Sweeney starred as Lindsay Corkhill in the TV drama Brookside from 1991 until the show was cancelled in 2003. Claire starred as Roxie Hart in the London production of Chicago in 2001. In 2003, she lead the world tour of Fosse. In 2006 Claire performed in Guys and Dolls at the Piccadilly Theatre and in 2011 she took Andrew Lloyd Webbers one woman show Tell Me On A Sunday on a National Tour. Claire also toured the UK as Paulette in Legally Blonde the Musical. Currently, Claire Sweeney is touring the UK with the comedy musical she has written called Sex and the Suburbs. As well as this, she is also hosting a weekly theatre radio show on Magic FM on Sunday’s.
Bonnie Langford has been on stage since she was just four months old. At age six she appeared on Opportunity Knocks and then (the role that gave her star status in) Just William. Bonnie starred alongside Angela Lansbury in Gypsy the Musical on Broadway in 1974 and then in the 1976 film Bugsy Malone with Jodie Foster. In the mid 1980’s Bonnie appeared in the legendary drama Doctor Who. Most recently, Bonnie has been seen on television in Dancing On Ice (where she placed third in the 2006 series and went on to tour the UK with the show and return to the TV production in 2014. Bonnie is a hugely established Musical Theatre performer, having just finished playing Muriel in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Savoy Theatre, The Lady of the Lake in the West End revival of Spamalot and Roz in the 2014 UK tour of the Dolly Parton musical 9 to 5. Bonnie Langford has done all this and so much more and is incredibly just 50 years old! Now, she is joining the cast of Eastenders to play Carmel Kazemi, the mother of established regular Kush Kazemi.
West End Wilma
Causing theatrical chaos in London’s West End since 2012