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Not that the other two roles [Charley and Mary] are actor-proof by any stretch of the imagination, but Franklin comes across as a lot more ephemeral on the page; you can’t quite pin him down.
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It's been nearly two years since I last compiled a list of my favourite leading men of musicals in Britain.
In that survey, I mentioned that Philip Quast – a three-time Olivier award winner and one of my all-time favourite leading men – was missing in action, as he'd returned to his native Australia.
Nobody has come through the ranks quite as forcibly as the brilliant Killian Donnelly in the last few years.
Starting with his lead role in The Commitments (after previous supporting stints in Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera and Billy Elliot) in 2013, he wowed in Memphis in 2014 and then Kinky Boots in 2016. What I love about Donnelly is his apparent regular guy-next-door ordinariness – yet the moment he appears on stage he ignites it with an extraordinary voice and moves. Here's a leading man of the old school with his tall, dreamy looks and dimpled charm, but also with washboard abs of the new school that were shown to full effect as he emerged from a pool in English National Opera's Sunset Boulevard last year, which he is about to reprise on Broadway next month.
Merrily We Roll Along may have flopped on Broadway in 1981, but the Stephen Sondheim/George Furth musical—the story of a three-way friendship that begins at the end and rewinds to the beginning—seems to lead a charmed life in London.