Former soap stars are revealing on the nation's stages that they have talents that extend far above soapy melodrama
Thanks to soaps, many of the actors who appear in them become some of the best known faces on television. But as well as their acting skills, many have talents largely hidden from the TV cameras. Among those talents, a sizeable number have found their way into musical theatre, both before and after their soap careers.
Here are just a few familiar faces who are currently taking the musical stage by storm…
Declan Bennett (Charlie Cotton, EastEnders)
Jesus Christ Superstar
EastEnders fans were sorry to see the recent exit of Declan’s character, Charlie Cotton. But they can catch up with the 36-year-old playing the lead role in the iconic Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical Jesus Christ Superstar, which is being stage by Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre from Friday, 11 August, until Saturday, 23 September. In 2002, Declan was given the part of Guru Dazzle in Boy George’s West End show Taboo, and in 2006 he had a leading role in the American national tour of Broadway rock opera Rent.
Verity Rushworth (Donna Windsor, Emmerdale)
Former Emmerdale actress Verity, who played Donna Windsor in the soap from 1998 to 2014, has made a name for herself in stage musicals. She made her debut in the hit musical Hairspray and followed that with lead roles in The Sound of Music, Carnaby Street – The Musical and Chicago. The 31-year-old is currently starring in Kinky Boots at London’s Adelphi Theatre until Saturday, 24 March, 2018.
Tom Lister (Carl King, Emmerdale)
Another former Emmerdale star, Tom is starring in the classic 1930s musical 42nd Street at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane until Saturday, 10 February 2018. The 39-year-old, who spent eight years playing Carl King in Emmerdale, made his musical theatre debut only three years ago in The Water Babies and later starred as Wild Bill Hickock in Calamity Jane.
Neil McDermott (Ryan Malloy, EastEnders)
The Wind in the Willows
As Chief Weasel, former EastEnders star Neil McDermott has gone animal crackers in the new stage musical version of The Wind In The Willows, at The London Palladium until Saturday, 9 September. Neil, 36, who played Ryan Malloy in Enders from 2009 until 2016, made his debut in musical theatre 15 years ago in the comedy Babes in Arms. His two most recent roles on the London stage were as Jean-Michel in La Cage aux Folles and Lord Farquaad in Shrek the Musical.
Deena Payne (Viv Hope, Emmerdale)
Deena, who became a soap favourite playing Emmerdale’s Viv Windsor for 18 years, has a starring role in Our House, which revolves around the music of British ska band Madness. Having started her career as a dancer on stage and TV, 62-year-old Deena went on to work extensively in musical theatre. After leaving Emmerdale in 2011, she played three tours of Calendar Girls.
John Partridge (Christian Clarke, EastEnders)
La Cage aux Folles
Former EastEnders star John plays entertainer Albin who glams it up as drag queen Zaza in La Cage aux Folles, which starts a nationwide tour at the King’s Theatre Glasgow on Tuesday, 25 July and runs until Saturday, 26 August. John, 45, played Christian Clark from 2008 to 2016. He is a veteran of musical theatre, having joined the cast of the original UK tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats in 1988.
Carley Stenson and Danny Mac
(Steph Cunningham & Dodger Savage, Hollyoaks)
Les Miserables & Sunset Boulevard
Ex Hollyoaks star Carley, 34, is living her dream. Not only is she due to marry her former Hollyoaks co-star Danny Mac, 29, in August, before that she’s also taking over the iconic lead role of Fantine in Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theatre, London. Carley, who played Steph Cunningham in Hollyoaks, has previously starred in Shrek: The Musical, Legally Blonde and Spamalot.
Not to be outdone by his future wife, Danny, who played Dodger Savage in Hollyoaks, has been starring as Gabey in On the Town, and from Saturday, 16 September, will be playing Joe Gillis in the UK touring musical production of Sunset Boulevard.