If you were going to bet hard cash on who will see out 2014 on top of the West End, Jenna Russell would probably be a safe bet!
The award-winning actress, who can seemingly turn her hand to most things, is having a riotous 12 months in Theatreland.
Here we take a look at her past productions, recent successes, and what’s up next.
Having trained at Sylvia Young, Jenna kicked off her stage career by playing Fantine in Les Miserables at the Palace Theatre and doing a long stint for the RSC – including As You Like It, Antony and Cleopatra, The Winter’s Tale, Misha’s Party, Wildest Dreams and The Beggar’s Opera.
She scooped an Olivier Award and a Tony nomination for Sunday in the Park with George at the Menier Chocolate Factory, in the West End and on Broadway, which crowned a succession of Sondheim roles that have also included Into the Woods at both the Donmar and the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Follies at the Shaftesbury Theatre, and recently an Olivier nominated role in Maria Friedman’s hit Menier Chocolate Factory and Harold Pinter show Merrily We Roll Along.
Other musical gigs include her Olivier nominated role in Guys and Dolls in the West End with Ewan McGregor, High Society in Sheffield, Martin Guerre at the Prince Edward and Soho Cinders at the Soho Theatre.
Drama and comedy roles include Season’s Greetings and Metropolis Kabarett at the National Theatre, Amy’s View on tour and at the Garrick Theatre, and Three Sisters at the Royal Court.
Jenna’s TV work includes a 1985 appearance in ITV sitcom Home to Roost, a starring role in BBC comedy On The Up in the early Nineties, Deborah Gilder in Born and Bred from 2002 to 2005, plus Doctor Who, Minder, and most recently Call The Midwife.
Jamie Lloyd’s production of cult Broadway hit Urinetown completed its run at the St James Theatre on Saturday (3 May 2014). To say that Jenna Russell once again defied expectations in the part of Penelope Pennywise would be a teeny understatement as she channeled everyone from Mrs O to Mrs Lovett for the role that has EVERYONE begging for the show – with her in it – to transfer. Rather cryptic Evening Standard ads at the end of the show’s run seemed to promise as much, but no further details have been forthcoming. And also, WHEN’S SHE GOING TO FIT IT IN?!
The European premiere of American play Mr Burns by Anne Washburn comes to the Almeida Theatre from 5 June to 26 July 2014, directed by Robert Icke (1984). Jenna joins a cast that includes Fiona Digney, Adrian der Gregorian, Demetri Goritsas, Adey Grummet, Michael Henry, Justine Mitchell, Wunmi Mosaku, Annabel Scholey and Michael Shaeffer.
Well if rumours are to be believed, she could also be playing the West End this Christmas in a play that did well off-West End in 2013 and pits her alongside some strong women!… More anon!
UPDATE TO THIS ARTICLE (7 May 2014): Jenna Russell is no longer performing at the London Festival of Cabaret on 14 May at the St James Theatre in Rodgers Revealed due to rehearsal commitments.
London Festival of Cabaret website
JENNA IN PICTURES