Here at Official London Theatre we love a list. Our desks are cluttered with them, pads full of numbered musings and white boards stacked with bullet pointed gems of inspiration.
So, we decided to put our should-be award-winning list skills to good use and provide you with a handy guide to a selection of our top tips and must sees in the months running up to Christmas. And never fear, by the time Christmas arrives you can bet your baubles we’ll have run you up a festive list for good measure as well.
Uncle Vanya / Vaudeville theatre / playing now
Four characters struggling to keep their emotions at bay, each one in love with the past as well as each other, the universe shifting and a dose of ennui. What else could you want from a Chekhovian drama? Alright then, how about a cast that includes Rebus’ Ken Stott, Pushing Daisies’ Anna Friel, Downton Abbey’s Laura Carmichael and Enron star Samuel West? We’ll also throw in acclaimed director Lindsay Posner as well.
Constellations / Duke of York’s theatre / from 9 November
If you haven’t caught a show from the Royal Court theatre’s West End season, now is your last chance. Well, for now anyway. After the success of transfers Jumpy and Posh, we’d gladly hazard a guess this isn’t the last time we’ll see such a season from the much-lauded new writing venue make it to the heart of Theatreland. Constellations is a critically acclaimed love story starring Rafe Spall and Sally Hawkins and a journey through worlds of infinite possibilities.
The Magistrate / National Theatre / from 14 November
Five Emmy Awards, two Tony Awards and two Golden Globes. It’s an impressive stack of awards, but no Olivier yet… perhaps John Lithgow will be going for British theatre gold in Timothy Sheader’s production of The Magistrate. Also starring National Theatre favourite Nancy Carroll, this is one for all play lovers, not just the 3rd Rock From The Sun fans.
Goodnight Mister Tom / Phoenix theatre / from 22 November
There is never a better time than winter to curl up – well, sit down in your velvety allocated seat – with a classic, so we couldn’t miss Michelle Magorian’s Goodnight Mister Tom off the list. Adapted for the stage by acclaimed playwright David Wood, the production stars Olivier Award-winning actor Oliver Ford Davies in the title role making it an all-round must-see.
Julius Caesar / Donmar Warehouse / from 29 November
If the Pussy Riot-inspired promotional image for the Donmar Warehouse’s forthcoming show didn’t have you intrigued already, the fact this political thriller will be portrayed by an all-female cast surely will. Said cast includes the great Frances Barber and the esteemed Harriet Walter. Book your tickets now or get ready for the inevitable returns queue.
Privates On Parade / Noël Coward / from 1 December
Okay, so we may already have had John Lithgow, Harriet Walter, Anna Friel in this list, but we have yet another name to add into the mix with Simon Russell Beale set to star in the first production from former Donmar Warehouse Artistic Director Michael Grandage’s new company. Russell Beale will be the first of many high-profile stars to take to the stage in Grandage’s Noël Coward season and he’s doing it in style, playing the cross-dressing Captain Dennis in Peter Nichols’ award-winning comedy set against the murderous backdrop of the Malaysian campaign at the end of World War II.
Scrooge The Musical / London Palladium / playing now
Tommy Steele is ready to entrance a whole new generation as he reprises his role in Leslie Bricusse’s festive musical based on Charles Dickens’ age-defying A Christmas Carol. If you’re ready to crack out the mince pies, Christmas tree and…well, the crackers themselves, this is the one for you. The production also marks Steele’s rise to the record books with the actor set to become the performer who has headlined more performances that anyone else in the incredible venue’s history.
Daddy Long Legs / St James theatre / playing now
Leave the lights of the West End behind for a night and travel down to Victoria for a truly exciting new musical offering. Daddy Long Legs is the latest work from Olivier and Tony Award-winner John Caird, the co-director of one of the most loved musicals of all time Les Misérables. With a book and direction by Caird and music and lyrics by Paul Gordon, this 1900s-set piece about a young orphan growing up is sure to be worth jumping on the District Line for.
The Bodyguard / Adelphi theatre / from 6 November
Since witnessing Grammy Award-winner Heather Headley sing the iconic I Will Always Love You in public for the first time at the launch of this new musical back in May with goose pimpling results, we’ve been dying for this production to open. Admittedly probably one for the Whitney fans, given the score comprises the legendary singer’s most popular hits, we can’t wait to get So Emotional at the Adelphi theatre with the story of diva singer Rachel Marron and the former Secret Service agent Frank Farmer. Olivier Award-winner Thea Sharrock directs.
Kiss Me, Kate / Old Vic theatre / from 20 November
The Old Vic theatre has quite the reputation for its festive period offerings and we don’t think you’ll be disappointed with this year’s musical treat, Cole Porter’s classic comedy Kiss Me, Kate. Trevor Nunn’s production brings together the worlds of gun-wielding gangsters, sparring actors and Shakespeare’s original characters from The Taming Of The Shrew, and has already received rave reviews from its run at Chichester Festival Theatre.
Viva Forever! / Piccadilly theatre / from 27 November
Arguably the most high-profile and talked about musical of the year, Viva Forever! boasts not only a Jennifer Saunders-penned storyline about that most favourite of British past times, a reality TV talent show, but songs from legendary girl group Spice Girls. Expect girl power, sassy attitudes and costumes that would make even Geri Halliwell jealous.
American Idiot / Hammersmith Apollo / from 4 December
If diva Whitney Houston and the poptastic Spice Girls don’t float your boat, how about this musical based on award-winning, multi-million album selling band Green Day’s concept album of the same name. There’s only two weeks to catch this Tony Award-winning Broadway musical as it finishes its UK tour in London, so get booking.
Opera & Dance
La Bohème / Charing Cross theatre / now playing
Even if you thought you hated opera, even if you thought you despised it in fact, I’d bet good money you will enjoy OperaUpClose’s Olivier Award-winning production. Taking Puccini’s masterpiece and giving it a fresh, Soho-inspired spin, this innovative production of a classic will have you in floods of tears and rolling around with laughter.
The Pilgrim’s Progress / London Coliseum / from 5 November
If your last memory of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress takes you back to your school days, there has never been a better time to rediscover the classic with English National Opera’s first ever staging of Vaughan Williams’ response to the hugely popular adventure stories.
Kenneth MacMillan season / Royal Opera House/ from 17 November
This mixed programming includes three of Kenneth MacMillan’s most glorious works, Concerto, Las Hermanas and Requiem, each exploring themes of repression and sensuality through his ground-breaking choreography.
Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty / Sadler’s Wells / from 4 December
Celebrate acclaimed dance company New Adventures’ 25th birthday with the world premiere of innovative choreographer Matthew Bourne’s latest reimagining of a classic ballet. Taking the classic tale of the girl cursed to 100 years of sleep, Bourne’s new production gives it a gothic twist as we move from 1890 to her waking up in the modern day. We’re intrigued…
Robert Le Diable / Royal Opera House / from 4 December
For opera fans, the chance to see a rarely performed piece is a must. So don’t miss Laurent Pelly’s new production of the little performed Robert Le Diable by Meyerbeer. For those less in the know this epic piece blends romance, the supernatural and grand spectacle and creates a world of carousing knights, jousting tournaments, courtly dances and supernatural visions.
The Nutcracker / London Coliseum / from 12 December
It would be impossible to talk about dance in the winter months without giving a nod to Tchaikovsky’s eternally popular The Nutcracker. Wayne Eagling’s version of this classic will transport you back in time and entice you to the land of the Sugar Plum Fairies.