- Written By 10Melanin Team
10 West End Shows With Black Leads This Season
It's been a tough year for the theatre industry, not just in the UK but, across the world. Theatre is one of the few industries thats been forced to remain closed during the pandemic, due to the enclosed area of the theatres. West end plays a vital role in employing talented performers, so it's important we continue to support it. As restrictions begin to ease, we take a look at some west end shows that deserve your attention, not only because they're great shows to watch but because they have a Black person leading the performance.
10. + Juliet
London Theatre Direct
We all know the tale of Romeo + Juliet, it's a story about a forbidden love with a tragic ending, but what if this was just the beginning for Juliet. Forget what you know because & Juliet tells a new story where Juliet doesn't die, in this hilarious and fun-loving new West End musical. Most excitingly in this remixed classic, Miriam-Teak Lee plays the role of Juliet adding to this refreshing new direction of this iconic role.
Manchester Evening News
Another musical which turns history on its (be)head is this show, which remixes the story of Henry VIII. Critically acclaimed and with a pop charting sound-track we see the Tudor Queens turn into Pop Princesses. The six wives each take turns in telling their stories to see who suffered the most at the hands of the king, battling for who becomes the lead singer of the group. Celebrate girl power by seeing the playful musical Six, which doesn't just have 1 Black lead but 3!
8. The Drifters Girl
London Theatre Direct
Based on the life of Faye Treadwell, the manager of the legendary R&B group The Drifters, who, with the help of her husband worked hard to push the group to reach global fame. The story tells the highs and lows of the music industry, along with the struggles that come with being the world’s first female African-American music manager. Staring the amazing Beverly Knight who takes on the astonishing soundtrack as the lead in this new west end production, The Drifters Girl.
7. Get Up Stand Up
Celebrate the story of Jamaica’s global superstar Bob Marley in this new musical production, Get Up, Stand Up! From humble beginnings in the hills of rural Jamaica, it took hard work and determination to help Marley achieve international acclaim for his talent, which allowed him to usher Reggae music into the mainstream charts. The stage will be lit with the presence of the finest reggae musicians that will bring this amazing tale of passion, political unrest and progress to life.
6. Death Drop
What do you get if you mix Rupaul's drag race with a 'whodunit'... Death Drop! A new comedy staring favourites from the cast of drag race along side some queens you might not know from TV, that'll have you laughing from start to finish. Set in the 90's, during a glamorous party on 'Tuck Island', a murder is committed and the audience must figure out who did it. One by one, the party guests must lip sync to save their lives, leading up to a grand finale where you find out who the murderer is. Expect nothing but camp-ness, plot twists and drama hunny!
5. Everybody's Talking About Jamie
While this musical is based on the true life story of a Jamie Campbell, who is indeed white, this season has casted a new kind of Jamie. Noah Thomas is set to take the main stage to reprise the iconic role of a teenage boy who wants to become a drag queen when he grows up, much to the resentment of his teacher and all while being bullied by his classmates.
4. Sister Act: The Musical
Sister Act: The Musical is back! First touring in the UK 10 years ago, Sister Deloris is set to take the stage again. Originally advertised as starring Whoopi Goldberg, who played Deloris in the original film, now can't unfortunately take up the role due to the pandemic. But, she still remains the lead producer, so we're sure she'll find a suitable replacement for herself.
3. Tina, The Tina Turner Musical
This musical tells the story of, you guessed it, superstar and icon Tina Turner. It roughly follows the same story that was told in the film 'What's Love Got To Do With It', which takes us through Tina's musical career during the 60's, 70's and 80's as she suffers at the hands of her abusive husband Ike Turner. This production lives up to the positive reviews, boasting amazing costumes, dancing and most importantly singing, that Tina herself would be proud of.
2. The Lion King
This classic west end musical has been going now for over 20 years and is made up of a nearly all Black cast. The musical tells the story of the iconic Disney film of the same name - The Lion King but using life sized puppets with a mix of contemporary and African dance to do so. It's great for both big kids and small, and with the remake not long being released, you might be interested in seeing the show again, if you haven't already.
Hamilton the musical tells the untold American story of founding father Alexander Hamilton, but through the medium of Hip Hop and R&B songs. It has gone on to win multiple awards and is the biggest show in theatre at the moment, often with shows being sold out months in advance. However, if you've been dying to see the show and not been able to, this could be your chance as there seems to be plenty seats available thanks to a global pandemic.