The Theatre Yearning Bug is a curious beast, able to strike at seemingly any moment through with its persuasive powers of world-class productions, toe-tapping showtunes and tantalising spectacles.
Fortunately for us theatre fans, theatre doesn’t come more varied than the wide range of offerings available in London – there’s always something to see. With every age and style of theatre catered for, you’re likely to find something tempting at every time, be it weeks, days – maybe even just a couple of hours, thanks to the wonderful TKTS – in advance.
But sometimes the early theatrical bird catches the West End worm, and (muddled metaphors aside) it’s always a great feeling to know well ahead of performance time that there’s a seat with your name on it, and that you’re certain to catch some of the unmissable theatrical treats that lie ahead. So with autumn on the horizon, we’ve picked out some of the season’s plays and musicals we’ll be reserving our seats for, pronto.
Where and when?: The Arts Theatre, from 5 – 23 September
What’s it about?: Two men wiling away the time – but for whom, for what, and why? Widely acclaimed as one of the greatest plays of the 20th century, Samuel Beckett’s sumptuous masterpiece is a must-see.
Why we can’t wait: It’s a chance to see a landmark production of the show as it returns to the Arts Theatre, home to the original 1955 production. Waiting for Waiting For Godot won’t prove easy!
Bertie Carvel (Rupert Murdoch) and Richard Coyle (Larry Lamb) in Ink at the Almeida Theatre (Photo: Marc Brenner)
Where and when?: Duke of York’s Theatre, from 9 September – 6 January 2018
What’s it about?: Read all about it: the product of 1969 Fleet Street lands on our doorstep as the rise of populist publication The Sun is charted by James Graham’s critically acclaimed new play. It’s a fascinating plot based on a true story, and one which has already stunned Almeida Theatre audiences this year before this autumn’s transfer.
Why we can’t wait: A brilliant cast (Bertie Carvel and Richard Coyle) with a brilliant director (Rupert Goold) and a brilliant revelatory play – Ink’s is a story that needs to be told.
Gareth Gates as Willard in Footloose (Photo: Matt Martin)
Where and when?: Peacock Theatre, from 12 – 30 September
What’s it about?: Cuttin’ loose and followin’ your dancin’ feet! Footloose is the rocking 80s classic musical about the irrepressible buzz of dancing, and with a starry cast including Gareth Gates and Maureen Nolan, and hits of the time like you’ve never heard them before – Holding Out For A Hero, Almost Paradise, Let’s Hear It For The Boy, and the unforgettable title track Footloose – audiences won’t be able to resist toe-tapping in the stalls.
Why we can’t wait: Because it’s a surefire show for leaving us with a grin on our face and a spring in our (box) step. Bring on the boogie!
Where and when?: The Arts Theatre, from 28 September – 3 December
What’s it about?: Shlock-horror at its funniest, feat. laughs, screams, and belting rock tunes. Acclaimed at the Southwark Playhouse earlier this year, this new musical is based on Lloyd Kaufman’s cult 1984 comedy film, and follows an unlikely hero, an even more unlikely superpower, and a corrupt mayor with poisonous plans; an intoxicating evening of hilarity and high-energy spectacle ensues.
Why we can’t wait: It’s the brainchild of the creative team behind the magnificent musical Memphis, and sounds right up the street of any Rocky Horror fans – so sign us up!
Where and when?: Garrick Theatre, from 28 September – 10 February 2018
What’s it about?: Based on the hilarious 1974 film, Young Frankenstein sees Mary Shelley’s classic come AAAAALLLLIIIIIIIVEEE (*ahem*) on stage like never before, in a wickedly inspired reimagining from the one and only Mel Brooks. Dr Frederick Frankenstein inherits a mad castle in Transylvania from his grandfather – along with a hunchback henchman, buxom assistant, needy fiancée and the drive to conduct radical experiments.
Why we can’t wait: With Brooks – the mastermind behind the hysterically funny The Producers musical – penning the music and lyrics, we’re all in for a monster of a laugh this autumn.
Where and when?: Harold Pinter Theatre, from 2 October – 30 December
What’s it about?: Shield your fingernails from your mouth: high tension and thrilling drama ensue when, at the culmination of their conflict in 1993, secretive top-level talks commence between the leaders of Israel and Palestine. Based on an extraordinary true story, the European premiere of this smash-hit production – the Lincoln Center’s production scooped every Best Play accolade on Broadway this year – transfers to the West End with a cast led by screen star Toby Stephens.
Why we can’t wait: Oslo’s unanimous acclaim on the other side of the Atlantic suggests London theatregoers are in for a treat.
Where and when?: Lyric Hammersmith, from 3 October – 4 November
What’s it about?: The prolific Simon Stephens masterfully reinvents Chekhov’s classic play of art, love, and their potent, destructive mix. Legendary actress Lesley Sharp stars as Irina Arkadina in this tale whch evaluates the burning need to create – and crush the creation of others. If you’ve ever shown off your work in any capacity, The Seagull is a play which will resonate with you.
Why we can’t wait: It’s a seminal play which swings effortlessly from the ridiculous to the profound – a true theatrical classic, with an exciting new vibrancy at the Lyric.
Where and when?: A bespoke staging at London County Hall, from 6 October – 11 March 2018
What’s it about?: Audiences are thrown thrillingly into the very thick of the action in this revolutionary production. At London County Hall, a man is accused of murdering his wife, and becomes subject to a rollercoaster of a murder trial with shocking witness testimonies and terrifyingly high stakes: can he escape the hangman’s noose?
Why we can’t wait: It’s the first major London production of an Agatha Christie play to open since the 1960s – and her previous plays haven’t done too badly in the West End…!
Where and when?: Theatre Royal Haymarket, from 6 October – 9 December
What’s it about?: A seductive, winding power play between an enigmatic actress (played by Game Of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer) and a director (The White Queen’s David Oakes). The driven Vanda Jordan wants the leading role in Thomas Novachek’s new production, and won’t take ‘No’ for an answer – and so begins an intoxicating dark comedy of desire, fantasy and the love of fur. Your ordinary play audition, this isn’t.
Why we can’t wait: There’s a thrilling magic to David Ives’ taut, tense drama, and we can’t wait to watch (probably through our fingers).
Where and when?: Vaudeville Theatre, from 6 October to 30 December
What’s it about?: Wildean wit abounds at the Vaudeville Theatre. The year-long Classic Spring season at the venue kicks off with this marital comedy-drama, which sees the cordial atmosphere of a party interrupted by shocking revelations which belie the guests’ initial paltry conversations. Packed with Wilde’s signature razor-sharp, pithy humour, A Woman Of No Importance is the perfect way to delve into a hugely exciting celebration of his work.
Why we can’t wait: Oscar Wilde’s wit, combined with Dominic Dromgoole’s renowned direction and Eve Best’s star casting, means we’re expecting a hilarious evening at the Vaudeville.
Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax at The Old Vic (Photo: Manuel Harlan)
Where and when?: The Old Vic, from 15 October to 5 November
What’s it about?: If it’s a classic family show you seek,
Then at Doctor Seuss’s story, take a peek.
And if beautiful puppets, sets and colours delight –
Then, well, this show, for you, is right!
The Olivier Award-nominated, ever-rhythmic family show returns to The Old Vic, following a smash-hit, critically acclaimed run last year. The effervescent Paradise Valley becomes a battleground between the magical moustachioed critter and a go-getting Once-ler – both kids and grown-ups will love it.
Why we can’t wait: We’re a complete sucker for Dr Seuss’ rhymes,
And if you are too, you’ll have the best of times!
(Disclaimer: Dr. Seuss, we are not!)
John McCrea in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (Photo: Johan Persson)
Where and when?: Apollo Theatre, from 6 November
What’s it about?: It’s the new musical that everybody’s been talking about – and, of course, the character on everybody’s lips. This smash-hit new coming-of-age production has gone down a storm at Sheffield Theatres, and sees a sixteen year old misfit emerge from prejudice to step into the spotlight as a sensation. Something tells us the show might just be a West End sensation, too.
Why we can’t wait: It’s got all the ingredients of a massive musical hit: catchy new songs by Dan Gillespie Sells (The Feeling), a critically acclaimed cast, and brilliant book by Tom MacRae. We’re already talking about Jamie here!
Where and when?: Lyric Theatre, from 22 November to 7 January 2018
What’s it about?: A magical, musical family treat, following hot on the heels of The Gruffalo’s monstrous West End success, The Gruffalo’s Child brings to spectacular life the much-loved picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. One windy night, The Gruffalo’s Child sneaks off into the deep dark wood… but the Big Bad Mouse doesn’t really exist, does he? Songs and laughs aplenty lie in store.
Why we can’t wait: We loved The Gruffalo, and can’t wait to see this show follow in its snowy footsteps!
The Simon & Garfunkel Story (Photo: Jacqui Wilson)
Where and when?: Playing at the Lyric Theatre, 4 Sep, 2 Oct, 6 Nov & 4 Dec 7.30pm
What’s it about?: The story of one of the world’s most iconic folk rock groups, the incredible journey shared by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel takes audiences through their meteoric highs and lows. With all their classic hits – Mrs Robinson, Bridge Over Troubled Water, The Sound Of Silence and more – this is a production which has won acclaim and hearts all over the world.
Why we can’t wait: We can’t wait to see the world of the 1960s rekindled to such a remarkable soundtrack!
National Youth Theatre Season (Othello and Jekyll & Hyde)
National Youth Theatre – Frantic Assembly’s Othello (Photo: Helen Maybanks)
Where and when?: Playing in repertory at the Ambassadors Theatre, on selected dates between 26 Sep – 8 Dec
What’s it about?: The theatrical stars of tomorrow showcase their well-honed talent on the West End stage at the culmination of their REP course.
Othello sees the company work in partnership with renowned practitioners Frantic Assembly in a radical adaptation of the Shakespearean tale, while Jekyll & Hyde is a female-led adaptation subverting the Victorian dichotomy directed by the award-winning Roy Alexander Weise.
Why we can’t wait: The National Youth Theatre boasts alumni including the likes of Helen Mirren, Daniel Craig, Daniel Day-Lewis, Catherine Tate, Derek Jacobi and Matt Smith – and plenty more. Who knows where we’ll next see this year’s company next?
For more shows you can book for, visit the London shows section.