12 popstars who have wowed audiences in musicals
Treading the board in the UK top 40 charts and on stages across the West End, these popstars have proven that you can have singing success in more than one singing avenue. These performers have been able to show audiences a different side to themselves on stage, rather than a commercial sound. Listen to these popstars belt out some musical theatre classics as we take you through singers that have stunned audiences in recent shows.
Popstars in musical theatre
Returning to the West End for the first time in over 20 years, Petula Clark will star in the West End revival of Mary Poppins as the Bird Woman. During her glittering career, Clark has sold over 60 million records, with some of her greatest hits including “Downtown” and “Colour My World”, both released in the 1960s. In the West End, she has starred in shows including The Sound of Music and Sunset Boulevard. Don’t miss your chance to hear Petula sing once more in Mary Poppins.
Girls Aloud singer Kimberley Walsh first appeared in the West End in 2011, taking over the role of Princess Fiona in Shrek the Musical. Bringing the animated character to life on stage for eight months, she then had a break from the theatre before originating the role of Jovie in Elf: The Musical at the Dominion Theatre, which became the fastest selling show at the theatre.
Returning to the West End, Lucie Jones’ stage credits include Rent, The Wedding Singer, Legally Blonde and We Will Rock You. However, Jones was a finalist on the 2009 series of The X Factor, later competing for the United Kingdom at the 2017 Eurovision Song Content.
Taking on the lead role in the 2012 arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, Mel C entertained audiences across the country with her portrayal of Mary Magdalene. Best known as “Sporty Spice”, the popstar’s first foray into musical theatre came in 2009, playing Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers and receiving an Olivier nomination. However, her performance in Jesus Christ Superstar has been highly commended.
In 2010, Nick Jonas made his West End debut as Marius in Les Misérables. Rising to fame from a young age as one of the Jonas Brothers, the popstar was only scheduled to perform in the show for three weeks, but extended his run for a week. Although he was in the West End for a short time, Jonas reprised his performance at the 25th Anniversary Concert at the O2 Arena, stunning audiences alongside a cast including Alfie Boe and Samantha Barks.
The first winner of Pop Idol in 2002, Will Young went on to be a successful recording artist with songs including “Leave Right Now” and “Evergreen”. As well as releasing albums, Young made the step into theatre, making his professional debut in The Vortex, a play at the Noël Coward Theatrein 2007. In theatre, he is best known for playing the role of the emcee in Cabaret. He first played the role in 2013, receiving an Olivier nomination for best actor in a musical. In 2017, he reprised his performance for a UK tour of Cabaret, alongside Louise Redknapp.
2008 The X Factor winner Alexandra Burke has released 3 albums, but has also enjoyed a glittering career in the West End. Making her theatre debut in 2014, the popstar took over from Beverley Knight as the lead role in The Bodyguard, receiving a nomination for best West End debut. She has also played Deloris van Cartier in a UK tour of Sister Act. 2018 saw Burke’s West End prowess increase, playing Svetlana Sergievsky in Chess at the London Coliseum and Roxie Hart in Chicago at the Phoenix Theatre.
British soul singer Beverley Knight made her musical theatre debut in 2013, playing Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard. The “Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda” singer lit up the Adelphi Theatre for ten months, she then originated the role of Felicia in Memphis at the Shaftesbury Theatre alongside Killian Donnelly, later nominated for an Olivier Award for best actress in a musical for this performance. Her last foray in the West End was in 2016, taking on the lead feline Grizabella in Cats at the London Palladium.
Scherzinger is best known as a lead vocalist in the American girl group, The Pussycat Dolls. However, the popstar is also an Olivier Award-nominated actress, receiving a nomination for best actress in a supporting role for her performance as Grizabella in Cats. Although this is her only professional theatre credit, she sang a unique rendition of the title song from The Phantom of the Opera at the 2011 Royal Variety Performance alongside Simon Bowman, Earl Carpenter, Ramin Karimloo and John Owen-Jones.
While Louise Redknapp first came into the public eye in 1990s girl band Eternal, she made her professional theatre debut in 2017. Returning to her career as a recording artist after appearing in Strictly Come Dancing, Redknapp was cast as Sally Bowles in the UK tour of Cabaret alongside fellow popstar turned musical theatre performer Will Young.
After winning The X Factor in 2010, Matt Cardle has starred in a number of West End productions. Leading the cast of Memphis at the Shaftesbury Theatre to Strictly Ballroom at the Piccadilly Theatre, it’s clear that Cardle has lent his soulful singing voice to a variety of performance styles. In 2019, Cardle will play Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar at the Barbican, playing for just 60 performances.
Since leaving the British girl band Sugababes from 2011, Jade Ewen has enjoyed a stellar career in musical theatre. Originating the role of Princess Jasmine in Aladdin at the Prince Edward Theatre, Ewen made her professional musical theatre debut in 2014 as Clara in Porgy and Bess. In 2015, she was cast as Vanessa in In the Heights at Kings Cross Theatre, assuming the role from Emma Kingston, who originated the character in the off-West End production a year earlier.
After you’ve listened to these West End stars, you’ll want to hear some of the heartwrenching ballads in musical theatre.