17 must-see plays and musicals to book tickets for in 2024

Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick in Plaza Suite – Joan Marcus

Jan 9: The Unfriend

Steven Moffat’s enjoyably silly comedy about a suspect American widow who invites herself to stay with the British couple she met on a cruise returns to the West End, retaining Frances Barber as the kooky interloper with Lee Mack and Sarah Alexander now cast as her reluctant hosts. 
Wyndham’s Theatre, London WC2 (theunfriend.com), until Mar 9, in previews now

Jan 24: The Most Precious of Goods

A solo adaptation /translation by director Nicolas Kent of Jean-Claude Grumberg’s best-selling novella – “a fable of the Holocaust”, in which an abandoned Jewish child is found by a woodcutter’s wife. 
Marylebone Theatre, London, NW1 (mostpreciousgoods.com) until Feb 3; previews from Jan 22

Jan 28: Plaza Suite

Though there were sniffy reviews for this revival of Neil Simon’s 1968 comedy in New York in 2022, demand will be high for Sarah Jessica Parker’s West End debut opposite another famous face – that of her husband – Matthew Broderick, playing three couples in one hotel room. 
Savoy Theatre, London WC2 (plazasuiteuk.com), until March 31; previews from Jan 17

Call the Midwife’s Helen George in The King and I

Call the Midwife’s Helen George in The King and I – Johan Persson

Jan 31: The King and I

Call the Midwife’s Helen George joins forces with Asian-American actor Darren Lee to re-enact the relationship between English governess Anna Leonowens and the King of Siam as musicalised by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Bartlett Sher directs this six-week West End run. 
Dominion Theatre, London W1 (nederlander.co.uk), until March 2; previews from Jan 20

Feb 1: A Mirror

Jonny Lee Miller plays a minister for culture in an authoritarian regime trying to nurture new playwrights in Sam Holcroft’s slippery play of ideas about truth and censorship, transferring from the Almeida. Jeremy Herrin directs. 
Trafalgar Theatre, London, SW1  (almeida.co.uk), until April 20; previews from Jan 22

Feb 6: Metamorphosis

The culmination of a UK tour by dependably frenetic Frantic Assembly which sees Lemn Sissay adapt Kafka’s tale of a man who wakes up one morning to find himself “transformed from breadwinner to burden”. 
Lyric Hammersmith, London W6  (lyric.co.uk), until Mar 2; previews from Feb 1

The Webb Sisters in The Hills of California

The Webb Sisters in The Hills of California – Oliver Rosser

Feb 6: The Hills of California

The latest from Jez ‘Jerusalem’ Butterworth goes straight into the West End. “Blackpool, 1976. In the sweltering backstreets… the Webb Sisters are returning to their mother’s run-down guest house, as she lies dying.” Sam Mendes directs. Cast includes Laura Donnelly (The Ferryman). 
Harold Pinter Theatre, London SW1 (hillsofcaliforniaplay.com), until June 15; previews from Jan 27

Feb 13: Just for One Day

John O’Farrell relives that July day in 1985 when a star-crammed rock concert called Live Aid changed hearts and minds; includes music by David Bowie, The Who, U2, Queen, Elton John, and of course The Boomtown Rats. Directed by Luke Sheppard (& Juliet). 
Old Vic, London SE1 (oldvictheatre.com), until Mar 30; previews from Jan 26

Feb 15: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Succession star Sarah Snook plays 26 characters in an acclaimed adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s Faustian fable about beauty and debauchery, adapted by Sydney theatre company’s artistic director Kip Williams. 
Theatre Royal Haymarket, London SW1 (doriangrayplay.com), until May 11; previews from Feb 6

Matt Smith returns to the stage in An Enemy of the People

Matt Smith returns to the stage in An Enemy of the People – Oliver Rosser

Feb 19: Double Feature

John Logan – the US playwright (Red) and Bond screenwriter – splits his attention between Hitchcock’s filming of Marnie in a replica Suffolk cottage and trouble afoot – in a real-life Suffolk cottage – between Vincent Price and director Michael Reeves on Witchfinder General. Jonathan Kent directs. 
Hampstead Theatre, London NW3 (hampsteadtheatre.com), until Mar 16; previews from Feb 8

Feb 20: An Enemy of the People

Matt Smith returns to the stage for the first time since Lungs at the Old Vic to star in German director Thomas Ostermeier’s acclaimed version of Ibsen’s drama about a whistle-blower who takes on a whole town. Expect audience participation and outbreaks of rock music. 
Duke of York’s Theatre, London WC2  (anenemyofthepeople.co.uk), until April 6; previews from Feb 6

Feb 21: Hadestown

Anais Mitchell’s folksy, jazzy, multi-Tony-winning musical treatment of the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice started out off-Broadway, got an admired big try-out at the National in 2018 and in addition to its Broadway run now gets a West End showing. 
Lyric Theatre, London W1 (uk.hadestown.com), until Aug 4; previews from Feb 10

Hadestown: Anais Mitchell’s multi-Tony-winning musical treatment of the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice

Hadestown: Anais Mitchell’s multi-Tony-winning musical treatment of the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice – Helen Maybanks

Feb 27: The Human Body

New one from Lucy Kirkwood (Chimerica, Mosquitoes) stars Keeley Hawes and Jack Davenport in a drama set in 1948 Shropshire where a toiling Labour party councillor meets a local boy turned Hollywood prospect and finds her world changed. Final production from Michael Longhurst as the Donmar’s AD. 
Donmar Warehouse, London WC2 (donmarwarehouse.com), until April 13; previews from Feb 16

Feb 13: A Leap in the Dark

Stage premiere of Ron Hutchinson’s play marking the 100th anniversary of the UK’s first radio play; eight actors multi-role to pay homage to the Beeb at its best – and back-stabbing worst.

New Vic Theatre, Newcastle under Lyme (newvictheatre.org.uk), until Mar 2; previews from Feb 9

Feb 28: Standing at the Sky’s Edge

Transfer for the Olivier award-winning musical from singer-songwriter Richard Hawley and fellow Sheffield creative Chris Bush – traversing the story of Park Hill social-housing scheme, as experienced across three generations, from the Sixties to the present. 
Gillian Lynne, London WC2 (skysedgemusical.com), until Aug 3; previews from Feb 8

Sheridan Smith in Opening Night

Sheridan Smith in Opening Night – Oliver Rosser

March 6: Nye

Michael Sheen plays Nye Bevan in “this surreal and spectacular journey through the life and legacy of the man who transformed Britain’s welfare state”. Written by Tim Price, directed by Rufus Norris. 
National’s Olivier theatre, London, SE1 (nationaltheatre.org.uk), until May 11; previews from Feb 24

March 26: Opening Night

Sheridan Smith stars in Ivo van Hove’s adaptation of John Cassavetes’ celluloid take on the back-stage drama surrounding a new play on Broadway, with music by Rufus Wainwright. 
Gielgud Theatre, London W1 (OpeningNightMusical.com), until July 27; previews from March 6

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