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22 shows you can’t miss this summer

Published 5 May 2016

Frankly there’s so much new theatre filling London’s venues in the coming months that it could all be a little intimidating; think Ross Kemp in a ruff or Danny Dyer giving it jazz hands. To help we’ve tried to break down 22 of this summer’s biggest new shows to their essence making it easy to see why you just have to book.

Musicals

The Threepenny Opera – from 18 May at National Theatre, Olivier

This has somewhat flown under the radar, but double Olivier Award winner Rory Kinnear heads back to the NT in this musical translated by the commanding Simon Stephens in a cast that also includes Rosalie Craig, Haydn Gwynne, Debbie Kurup and Sharon Small. Look out for it next awards’ season.

Aladdin – from 27 May at Prince Edward Theatre

Genies. Flying carpets. Magic. Costumes that will make you inhale with such force you might just suck a performer off the stage. Oscar-winning songs. A despotic sorcerer. What more could you want? Book now.

The Go-Between – from 27 May at Apollo Theatre

Michael Crawford back on stage. Do you need more of a reason? LP Hartley’s classic story is a nostalgic tale of forbidden romance and tragic consequences. More steamy than a London summer’s evening. Book now.

Titanic – from 28 May at Charing Cross Theatre

The first show in Thom Southerland’s tenure as Artistic Director of Charing Cross Theatre was previously a hit for the director in 2013. You may know how it ends, but the musical journey’s worth it.

Bugsy Malone – from 11 June at Lyric Hammersmith

With its cast of outrageously talented child performers, Drew McOnie’s glorious choreography and hit tunes, this was an absolute triumph when staged in 2015. I’d expect nothing less from its splurgariffic return.

American Idiot – from 8 July at Arts Theatre

Think musicals are all jazz hands and high kicking? We really need to talk, but before that I urge you to immediately think again, as this one, inspired by Green Day’s hit album, is all about personal reactions to 9/11. And guitars. Lots of guitars. Book now.

Groundhog Day – from 11 July at The Old Vic

This should have you booking for no other reason than that it reunites the team behind Olivier Award record-breaking musical Matilda The Musical. That’s composer/lyricist Tim Minchin, director Matthew Warchus, choreographer Peter Darling, designer Rob Howell and more. And it takes a brilliant Bill Murray film as its inspiration. Book now.

The Bodyguard – from 15 July at Dominion Theatre

I wanna dance with somebody; both a statement of fact and one of the many Whitney Houston dancefloor fillers and tearjerkers to be found in this Beverley Knight-led musical adaptation of the Kevin Costner film. Book now.

Jesus Christ Superstar – from 15 July at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Can’t wait for School Of Rock to arrive in London to get your Andrew Lloyd Webber kick? Then enjoy an early work in an environment so sun-dappled and pleasant it could chill Judas right out and change the course of the story entirely. (It won’t.)

Drama

Romeo And Juliet – from 12 May at Garrick Theatre

Kenneth Branagh. Game Of Thrones’ Richard Madden. Downton Abbey’s Lily James. Derek Jacobi. Meera Syal. The stage’s greatest love story. Nothing more need be said. Book now.

Harry Potter And The Cursed Child – from 7 June at Palace Theatre

Let’s be honest, you’re probably not getting tickets for this this summer. You’re more likely to purchase a tame hippogriff than you are a Cursed Child ticket. But plan ahead for next summer. Or 2018.

1984 – from 14 June at Playhouse Theatre

This proven hit returns to the West End, bringing back its horrifying tale of George Orwell’s dystopian future where even thinking the wrong thoughts are punishable in the most extreme ways. Book now.

Henry V – from 17 June at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Because what’s the summer for if not Shakespeare? At the Open Air Theatre, Olivier Award winner Michelle Terry is taking on the title role of Henry V in a production directed by Sheffield Theatres’ Artistic Director designate, Robert Hastie.

Macbeth – from 18 June at Shakespeare’s Globe

Another Shakespearean classic, this time the bloody tale of ambition and murder, with RSC regular Ray Fearon in the title role and stage and screen star Tara Fitzgerald as his manipulative wife.

Breakfast At Tiffany’s – from 30 June at Theatre Royal Haymarket

Singer, Strictly Come Dancing contestant and now actress, Pixie Lott takes on the iconic role of good time girl Holly Golightly in this latest stage adaptation of Truman Capote’s novella, not the Audrey Hepburn film. Book now.

The Entertainer – from 20 August at Garrick Theatre

The final show in the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s inaugural West End season sees Ken step into the shoes of Archie Rice, John Osborne’s classic musical hall entertainer, in a cast that also includes John Hurt. Book now.

Comedy

The Spoils – from 27 May at Trafalgar Studios 1

Lex Luther is also a playwright! Yep, Jesse Eisenberg is starring in his off-Broadway hit alongside The Big Bang Theory’s Kunal Nayyar, Game Of Thrones’ Alfie Allen, Olivier winner Kaite Brayben and original cast member Annapurna Sriram. Impressive. Book now.

Hobson’s Choice – from 8 June at Vaudeville Theatre

It’s the 100th anniversary of Harold Brighouse’s tyrannical shopkeeper and the daughter who defies him, leaving him with a difficult decision. Celebrate by seeing Martin Shaw in the title role. Book now. 

Family

Running Wild – from 13 May at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Missing War Horse? Us too. So we’re delighted there’s a new adaptation of a Michael Morpurgo story featuring incredible puppets for us to be excited about. This one features an elephant named Oona.

The Gruffalo – from 6 July at Lyric Theatre

Silly old audiences, don’t they know, there’s no such thing as a Gruffalo… Except there is, isn’t there? He has terrible teeth, terrible claws and he flippin’ loves the West End. He’s back again with his story for little theatre fans this summer. Book now.

Horrible Histories – The Best Of Barmy Britain – from 5 August at Apollo Theatre

Speaking of shows that love a West End run, the Horrible History team are back and they’re bringing the bits you liked best from their past shows with them. So that’ll be the most gruesome, unsavoury, potty-based moments then, yes? Book now.

Dance

Jekyll & Hyde – from 20 May at The Old Vic

Drew McOnie won the Olivier Award for Best Theatre Choreographer earlier this year. This is his version of the classic Gothic novel. See it now so you can say you saw McOnie’s work before he went stratospheric. Book now.

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