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From fresh adaptations of beloved classics to original thought-provoking shows, London is heaving with new theatre productions this summer.
But with so many to choose from, picking where to grab tickets in the capital can feel like a lengthy dramatic epic. That’s why we sieve through the host of new performances each month to find those worth checking out, so you don’t have to. Here are our top shows coming up from now until the end of July.
Groundhog Day, Old Vic
Danny Rubin and Tim Minchin’s musical adaptation of Bill Murray’s classic time-loop comedy, directed by Matthew Warchus and starring Andy Karl, returns to the Old Vic (appropriately). “I could watch Tim Minchin and Danny Rubin’s show again and again,” said Evening Standard critic Nick Curtis. “It’s sublimely witty and surprisingly profound.”
Until Aug 12; Book tickets here
School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play, Lyric Hammersmith
This award-winning comedy by Ghanaian-American playwright Jocelyn Bioh, is directed by Monique Touko, It’s set during a beauty pageant in a Ghanaian girls’ boarding school in 1986, and explores the universal similarities, and glaring differences, facing teenage girls around the world brilliantly. We called it an unmissable play that “soars into something hugely fun and vibrant – and a great group of performers helps, too”.
Until July 15; Book tickets here
Dear England, National Theatre
James Graham’s new play centres around the England men’s football team, with The Handmaid’s Tale star Joseph Fiennes playing Gareth Southgate in this account of the struggles and successes of the squad after 2016. It’s partly based on research and interviews, and unearths the Shakespearean dramas within the great game, finding an unlikely hero in Gareth Southgate
Until August 11; Book tickets here
The Pillowman, Duke of York’s Theatre
Lily Allen and Steve Pemberton star in this revival of Martin McDonagh’s 2003 play about a writer who is questioned by the authorities about a string of murders that bear similarities to her short stories. The critically-acclaimed black comedy questions if life is imitating art, or if something more sinister is unfolding. It also examines the role of the artist in society and the price paid for freedom of expression.
From June 21 until September 2; Book tickets here
Mrs Doubtfire, Shaftesbury Theatre
After a run in Manchester, this comedy musical adaptation of the hit Robin Williams film has finally arrived in the West End. After losing custody of his children, out-of-work actor Daniel disguises himself as a Scottish nanny to stay in their lives, and… well, you know the rest. The beloved story now has added songs.
From June 22, booking to January 24, 2024; book tickets here
Tambo & Bones, Theatre Royal Stratford East
Matthew Xia directs this Dave Harris play, which blends afro-futurism (the cultural aesthetic that combines science-fiction, history and fantasy to explore the African-American experience), hip hop and clowning to tell the story of two men trapped in a minstrel show. There was a stir around the show last month, when some news outlets took against its use of a ‘Black Out’ performance – encouraging only black audience members to attend to experience it in a safe space – before it had even opened. Now the show will speak for itself.
From June 22 to July 15; Book tickets here
Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Haymarket Theatre
This up-to-date take on Dario Fo and Franca Rame’s 1970 farce was a critical hit at Sheiffield Theatres and the Lyric Hammersmith and heads into the West End for the summer. An anarchist has fallen to his death from a police station window but did he jump or was he pushed? Starring Bafta-winner Daniel Rigby. This razor sharp satire has lost none of its cutting edge as Tom Basden’s adaptation takes aim at everyone from the Metropolitan Police to the metropolitan elite.
From June 26 to September 9; Book tickets here
Crazy for You, Gillian Lynne Theatre
This musical about a theatre-mad banker who sets out to rescue a small town venue from destruction is directed and choreographed by Tony and Olivier award-winner Susan Stroman. It stars Charlie Stemp as our plucky hero Bobby Childs, and follows him as he stages a glitzy new show in a bid to save the day.
July 3 to January 20, 2024; Book tickets here
Beneatha’s Place, Young Vic
This new play follows Beneatha (of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun) as she swaps racist America with Lagos, Nigeria; against the backdrop of independence sweeping across Africa in 1959. It then switches to the present day, showing Beneatha’s return to the Nigeria after spending most of her life in the US. Here, she deals with issues of colonialism, culture war, and how we deal with our past.
From July 5 until August 5; Book tickets here
La Cage Aux Folles, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Harvey Fierstein’s classic, with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, is primed for a major revival at Regent’s Park this summer. Georges, Albin and their son Jean-Michel re-discover the true meaning of family, and the sacrifice of putting their dreams last so that their loved ones can shine. Prepare to experience the surreal moment of hearing I Am What I Am belted out while you’re surrounded by the breezy trees and the resident ducks quacking along.
July 6 to September 16; Book tickets here
Wizard of Oz, Palladium
Nikolai Foster’s new production of this much-loved story includes all the classic tunes: Over The Rainbow, Follow The Yellow Brick Road, and We’re Off To See the Wizard, as well as additional songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. The producers of the Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat are bringing a brand-new production of one of the world’s most beloved musicals back to the West End – you’re in good hands.
July 6 to September 3; Book tickets here
Dr Semmelweis, Harold Pinter Theatre
Mark Rylance on the stage is always an event, and here he returns to the west end as one of medicine’s great (and little known) pioneers Ignaz Semmelweis. In 19th century Vienna, the Hungarian doctor wants to halt the thousands of deaths of women in childbirth each year, using groundbreaking antiseptic procedure, but to do so he has to persuade his colleagues to admit culpability and approve change. Already a critical and audience hit during its run at the Bristol Old Vic.
From July 11 to October 7; haroldpintertheatre.co.uk
Grenfell: in the words of the survivors, National Theatre
Six years on from the Grenfell fire, this new verbatim play by Gillian Slovo draws together the testimony of residents at the heart of the disaster. The work explores the courage and resilience of an ill-treated community and their continued campaign for justice.
Previews from July 13, runs to August 26; nationaltheatre.org.uk
Macbeth, The Globe
Experience this classic drama of deceit at the open air playhouse that gives a feel for what it might’ve been like to be in the audience for one of Shakespeare’s plays during his lifetime. Abigail Graham directs this gripping drama in the atmospheric Globe, focusing on Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s murderous obsession with gaining power.
From July 21 to October 28; Book tickets here
The SpongeBob Musical, Southbank Centre
Great for family audiences, SpongeBob Squarepants makes the leap to the stage in this vibrant Broadway musical coming to the UK. The cast is led by Gareth Gates and Divina De Campo with a score by Sara Bareilles, Steven Tyler, John Legend, Tom Kitt, and more. Like its acclaimed New York stage original, it promises to be a fun watch.
From July 26 to August 26; Book tickets here
Laurel & Chaplin – The Feud, Cambridge Theatre
The legendary dispute between comic titans Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel plays out on stage in The Feud. When Chaplin got his big Hollywood break, the pals had a major falling out and made no secret of their beef. A lot of it was said to have stemmed from Laurel’s jealousy of Chaplin’s success, although he eventually followed his footsteps and also carved out a decent film career.
It’s a fascinating, and rarely told story, which will feature slapstick, burlesque, cirque, and a multi-talented cast.
From July 24 to August 28; Book tickets here