West End and Broadway stars you may recognise from reality TV
It’s always thrilling to see a celebrity that you idolise on stage. Whether it’s catching an A-lister in a must-see play in London, or watching an award-winning pop star lead a musical cast in New York, seeing stars on stage can be a special moment. However, there’s a small but growing group of reality television performers who achieve their dream of leading a West End or Broadway show.
Plenty of performers found theatrical stardom after winning reality TV competitions. Alexandra Burke took the West End by storm after winning The X Factor, Jessie Buckley came second in I’d Do Anything, a televised search for Nancy in Oliver!. Jay McGuiness launched himself into musical theatre after winning Strictly Come Dancing in the UK. And now, there’s plenty of reality TV personalities who you might recognise from the small screen treading the boards. Here’s all the West End and Broadway stars from reality TV that you can see on stage right now.
West End stars from reality TV
Welsh singer Lucie Jones first appeared on our screens in the UK series of The X Factor in 2009. She reached the live finals of the competition at just 18 years old. Even though she finished eighth, her singing attracted the attention of West End producer Cameron Mackintosh. Shortly after competing in The X Factor, Jones made her West End debut as Cosette in Les Misérables. She then starred in UK tours of We Will Rock You, Rent and Legally Blonde, before being cast as Jenna in Waitress. Now, Jones is fulfilling a lifelong ambition: she stars as Elphaba in Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. See her defying gravity now.
Samantha Barks competed on the 2008 reality television series I’d Do Anything – the hunt for the next Nancy in Oliver!. She came third in the competition, losing out to fellow West End leading ladies Jessie Buckley and Jodie Prenger. After the series, Barks played Eponine in Les Misérables, and then reprised the role in the film adaptation. More recently, she’s entertained American audiences in Amélie and Pretty Woman: The Musical. Now, Barks is back on British soil. She’s currently turning the West End into a winter wonderland, as she plays Elsa in Frozen at Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
Prior to finding reality TV fame, Matt Henry had already appeared in a number of West End shows. Henry made his West End debut in The Lion King, before playing Gary Coleman in Avenue Q from 2006 – 2012. Then, Henry competed on The Voice UK, a reality search for the country’s best singer. Although he came in fourth, Henry’s West End future was sealed, and he’s now a hot commodity. Since The Voice, Henry’s won an Olivier Award for playing Lola in Kinky Boots, and he’s giving soulful performances in the world premiere production of The Drifters Girl.
West End heartthrob Danny Mac began his theatre career from an early age, playing Gavroche in Les Misérables aged 11. After professional training, Mac made his adult debut in Wicked, before leaving to star in Hollyoaks. However, his notoriety grew thanks to competing in the 2016 series of Strictly Come Dancing. Since then, he’s been an unstoppable force in the London theatre scene, starring in On The Town, White Christmas and now Pretty Woman: The Musical.
Broadway stars from reality TV
When Glee first aired, the show changed the future for all budding theatre kids. So when there was a competition to star in Glee, it seemed like a dream come true. The subsequent television show The Glee Project made names out of future Broadway stars like Alex Newell and Ali Stroker. Lindsay Pearce finished as runner-up in the first season of the show, and even though she didn’t win, she still appeared in a few Glee episodes as Rachel Berry’s arch-rival Harmony,. Following regional productions of Spring Awakening, Cruel Intentions and American Idiot, Pearce is now starring as Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway.
The 2008 series I’d Do Anything churned out tons of theatrical talent, including Rachel Tucker. She placed fourth in the competition, battling against Samantha Barks for a place in the finals. Even though she didn’t win, she went on to lead numerous West End and Broadway musicals, such as We Will Rock You, Wicked and The Last Ship. In 2019, Tucker starred as pioneering pilot Beverley Bass in Come From Away, earning her first Olivier Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical. Now, she’s flown back over the Atlantic — just like Beverley Bass would — to reprise the role on Broadway.