The West End has seen many star performers grace the stages of the numerous theatres that produce performances throughout the year. There seems to be a healthy balance of those making their names on the West End Stage as compared to those actors who already have made their name either on television or in the cinema, and feel it’s time to satisfy their professional pride by becoming a success on the West End stage. The beauty of Theatre land is that it offers a huge variety of performances. Light hearted productions are mixed with serious drama, and of course there are always an abundance of musical performances that are being staged.
Jeremy Irons is a good example of an actor who was classically trained, then went on to the West End Stages before then exploring films and television. Starting his stage career in 1969 he performed in many Shakespeare productions such as “Macbeth”, “The Taming of the Shrew”, “The Winter’s Tale” and “Much Ado About Nothing”. It was not until 1981 that he ventured into cinema with his role in “The French Lieutenant’s Woman”. Since then he has performed both on television and on screen and he is one of the few who has won the Triple Crown of Acting. An Emmy Award, a Tony award and an Academy Award.The Emmy Award came for best supporting actor in the television series Elizabeth I. He won his Tony Award for his performance in Tom Stoppard’s play “The Real Thing”. His Academy Award came as Best Actor in the 1990 film “Reversal of Fortune” where he played the murderer Claus von Bulow.
Helen Mirren began her acting career with the Royal Shakespeare Company in1967 and for years she has mixed her acting career in appearing in television, theatre and film roles. In her years on the stage she has won many awards but had to wait until 2015 for her first Tony. She won it for her portrayal of Elizabeth II in “The Audience”. She was also playing Queen Elizabeth II when she won her Academy Award for Best Actress in the 2006 film “The Queen”. She is the only actress to have played both Queen Elizabeth’s on screen. She completed her ”Triple Crown” when she was awarded Emmy Awards for her performances in “Prime Suspect” and playing Queen Elizabeth I in “Elizabeth I”.
Paul Schofield is widely regarded as one of the best actors to have appeared on the West End Stage. Classically trained, his love of Shakespeare resulted in him giving many masterly performances, and his role as King Lear earned great critical acclaim. Maggie Smith won her Triple Crown at a canter as she became the first winner to gain 7 awards. Smith actually started her career in television having graduated from Oxford University and in her career she has appeared in over 50 films. She has won two Academy Awards, one being for the Best Actress in “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” and the other for Best Supporting Actress in “California Suite. She won a Tony Award for her performance in “Lattice and Lovage”. However nothing can surpass the awards she has won for playing Violet Crawley in Downton Abbey. She has won 3 for Outstanding Support Actress in a drama series. However, an actor does not need to have a Triple Crown in order to command a glowing reputation. Laurence Olivier had a magnificent acting career especially on stage and in film. He won 4 academy awards and 5 Grammys, but strangely never won a Tony. His performance in the West End over a 60 year period was so valued that he has been remembered with the annual Laurence Olivier Awards that are given each year by the Society of London Theatre. The West End has been home to many great actors and actresses.