Ever since the dawn of time – and particularly since the publication of Boris’s roadmap out of lockdown – human beings have gazed at the stars in awe and asked themselves “Where can I get a list of only the best London Theatre shows I can book right now (divided into musical, comedy, drama, and immersive categories) in which I can also discover a heap of nearby bars and restaurants to help me make a night of it?“
Well they need ask no longer.
Because that list is, and forever will be, right here.
THE BEST MUSICALS IN LONDON
Cinderella | Gillian Lynne Theatre | New Show
Cinderella’s getting a reboot. The classic fairytale has been given the musical treatment by Andrew Lloyd Webber (Phantom of the Opera, Cats, about a million others) and finally gets its world debut this summer. It stars Carrie Hope Fletcher in the title role and looks set to reinvent the original with a new plot-line, including a fairy godmother who seems to moonlight as a surgeon… READ MORE
Opens: 25th June
Dinner before: Delicate seafood in a former fishmongers at Parsons
Drinks after: Hella good wine at The 10 Cases
Details: Cinderella runs at the Gillian Lynne Theatre (closest tube station Holborn) until 13th February 2022. Tickets cost £25-140, and can be booked HERE.
Back To The Future: The Musical | Adelphi Theatre | New Show
Future you visited us, and said it was imperative we tell you about this new musical. And to be fair, if you like cult movies, 80s hits and not being in your living room all year again, you’re probably going to enjoy it. READ MORE
Opens: 20th August
Dinner before: Steak at 1985 prices at Flat Iron Covent Garden
Drinks after: Hand-picked wines at Lady of the Grapes
Details: Back To The Future: The Musical runs at the Adelphi Theatre (closest tube station Charing Cross) until 13th February 2022. Tickets cost £19.85 (obviously) – £224.50, and can be booked HERE.
Cruise | Duchess Theatre | New Show
Well, Jack Holden had a productive lockdown. The War Horse and Ink actor penned his own play mashing up spoken word, music and drama, and streamed performances online. It was a hit, and now it’s making its real-life debut in the West End. Soundtracked by 80s classics, it follows a young man on what ‘should’ve been his last night on Earth’ at the peak of the AIDS crisis, as he navigates what comes next for survivors.
Opens: 18th May
Dinner before: Sumptuous Italian at Café Murano
Drinks after: Martinis at Christopher’s
Details: Cruise runs at the Duchess Theatre (closest tube station Covent Garden) until 13th June 2021. Tickets cost £21.50 – £68, and can be booked HERE.
Singin’ In The Rain | Sadler’s Wells | New Transfer
It’s a classic. Every song’s a winner. The dancing is incredible. But the main reason you’re going to want to see this all-singing, all-dancing stage adaptation of the iconic 1952 movie is because it involves actual rain. READ MORE
Opens: 30th July
Dinner before: Al fresco tapas at Moro
Drinks after: Retro cocktails at Coin Laundry
Theatre critics say: The Telegraph 5*; The Stage 4*
Details: Singin’ In The Rain runs at Sadler’s Wells (closest tube station Angel) until 5th September 2021. Tickets cost £15-100, and can be booked HERE.
Hairspray | London Coliseum | Returning Show
Michael Ball’s going back to his roots – he’s reprising his role as the formidable Edna Turnblad in the relentlessly upbeat musical set in 1960s Baltimore. Catchy songs like ‘You Can’t Stop The Beat’ and ‘I Can Hear The Bells’ are interlaced with dynamite choreography and a storyline to give you all the fuzzy feels.
Reopens: 21st June
Dinner before: Glorious Iranian dishes at Nutshell
Drinks after: Explore the menu at Mr. Fogg’s Society of Exploration
Details: Hairspray runs at the London Coliseum (closest tube station Charing Cross) until 29th September 2021. Tickets cost £25-140, and can be booked HERE.
Come From Away | Phoenix Theatre | Returning Show
Come From Away isn’t your typical musical. There’s no dazzling lights, or flashy set. The cast are probably less dressed up than the audience. Oh, and the whole toe-tapping, feel-good, soul-lifting story… is about 9/11. Set in the Canadian town of Gander, which hosted 7,000 diverted air passengers in the wake of the attacks, it’s a rousing paean to community spirit and compassion, interlaced with a folk-rock score that’s helped to bag the show four Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical.
Reopens: 22nd July
Dinner before: London’s best value steak at Flat Iron Denmark Street
Drinks after: Cocktails upstairs at 68 and Boston
London Theatre Critics say: The Times 5*; The Stage 5*; Evening Standard 4*
Details: Come From Away runs at the Phoenix Theatre (closest tube station Tottenham Court Road) until 18th December 2021. Tickets cost £20-125, and can be booked HERE.
Dear Evan Hansen | Noël Coward Theatre | Returning Show
The hugely anticipated broadway transfer of this Tony award-winning musical has finally landed on English shores. It centres around Evan, an American high schooler with social anxiety who finds himself faking an old friendship with a student who recently committed suicide. What follows is a heartbreaking story as relationships are formed, broken, and redeemed, all punctuated with a seriously strong soundtrack. Bring tissues.
Reopens: 26th October, booking opens 18th May
Dinner before: Colourful Peruvian at Floral by Lima
Drinks after: Find the hidden bar behind the golden handshake at the St. Martins Lane Hotel
London Theatre Critics say: The Telegraph 4*; The Times 4*; The Guardian 4*
Details: Dear Evan Hansen runs at the Noël Coward Theatre (closest tube station Leicester Square) until 13th February 2022. Tickets cost £15-177.50, and can be purchased HERE.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie | Apollo Theatre, London | Returning Show
This title could have been reaaally embarrassing if the show hadn’t taken off. Luckily, London theatre critics have been going mad for it, with bountiful comparisons to ‘a Billy Elliot for the millennial age’. Following the true story of 16 year old drag queen Jamie campaigning to wear a dress to prom, the show is packed with feel-good, prejudice-busting scenes fed by songs from The Feeling singer, Dan Gillespie Sells.
Reopens: 20th May
Dinner before: Retro Taiwanese at Xu
Drinks after: Cocktails underground at Bar Américain
London Theatre Critics say: The Times 5*; The Stage 5*; The Independent 5*; Financial Times 5*
Details: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie runs at the Apollo Theatre (closest tube station Piccadilly Circus) until 29th August 2021. Tickets cost from £20-£85 and can be purchased HERE.
Hamilton | Victoria Palace Theatre, London | Returning Show
Unless you were living under a particularly well-soundproofed rock for the past few years, you’ll no doubt be vaguely aware that the biggest musical theatre event to drop this century finally came to London.
And the cast are ready to Rise Up to the challenge.
Following the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton, it’s a revolutionary musical that raps its way through history, and within months of playing here, earned a record-breaking 13 Olivier nominations for its troubles…
Reopens: 19th August
Dinner before: Al fresco brasserie fare at Rail House Café
Drinks after: Cocktails upstairs at The Ivy Victoria
London Theatre Critics say: The Guardian 5*; The Telegraph 5*; The Independent 5*; The Stage 5*; The Evening Standard 5*
Details: Tickets are on sale for Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre (closest tube station Victoria) until 13th February 2022. They cost from £75-£100, and can be purchased HERE.
Mary Poppins | Prince Edward Theatre | Returning Show
Always knowing exactly when she’s needed, Mary Poppins has flown into town. A sugar-dusted production with dazzling costumes, impressive dance sequences and a glorious soundtrack (obviously), this musical’s the pick-up we all needed.
Reopens: 7th August
Dinner before: French food avec jazz at Café Boheme opposite
Drinks after: Slip behind the bookcase at Milroy’s
London Theatre Critics say: The Guardian 5*; The Telegraph 5*; Evening Standard 4*
Details: Mary Poppins runs at the Prince Edward Theatre (closest tube station Tottenham Court Road) until 3rd October 2021. Tickets cost £40-89.50, and can be purchased HERE.
SIX | Lyric Theatre London | Returning Show
Divorced, beheaded, live in concert: it’s the story of Henry VIIIth’s six wives, performed by the queens themselves in the form of a punk girl-band. To say it’s a phenomenon would be to undersell it: it started out as an Edinburgh Fringe show, and has now scored runs in the West End, on Broadway and down in Oz. Expect neon ruffs; Greensleeves-techno mash ups and unexpectedly poignant moments interspersed with its high-energy score.
Reopens: 21st May
Dinner before: Peruse the delights of Chinatown
Drinks after: Knock on the door of the Experimental Cocktail Club
London Theatre Critics say: Evening Standard 5*; The Times 4*; The Telegraph 4*
Details: Six runs at the Lyric Theatre (closest tube station Piccadilly Circus) until 29th August 2021. Tickets cost from £29.50-67.50, and can be purchased HERE.
Amelie | The Criterion | New Transfer
Amelie The Musical is the theatrical equivalent of cracking the top of a crème brûlée. Sweet, comforting, and oh so French, in all the best ways. The latest London show has had new orchestrations, an expanded repertoire of songs, new staging, the works. And it has worked indeed, with critics lapping it up, and earning it noms for three Olivier Awards and one Grammy.
Opens: 20th May
Dinner before: Keep things French at Brasserie Zedel
Drinks after: Keep things musical at The Piano Works West End
London Theatre Critics say: The Times 4*; The Stage 4*; The Guardian 4*
Details: Amelie The Musical currently runs at the Criterion Theatre from 20th May 2021 until the 25th September 2021. Tickets cost £25-£125 and an be booked HERE.
THE BEST DRAMA | LONDON THEATRE
The Death of a Black Man | Hampstead Theatre | New Show
This show received its debut at the Hampstead Theatre back in 1975, and now – after a covid-induced delay – it’s coming back. It was written by the eminent Alfred Fagon, after whom the prestigious award for Black British playwrights is named. It follows the best friends Shakie and Stumpie as they embark on a bright-looking future: business is booming, Shakie’s got a flat in Chelsea, it’s all looking good. But this biting satire looks at how far they’re prepared to go in pursuit of what they want.
Opens: 28th May
Dinner before: Al fresco Italian at Terra Terra
Drinks after: Well, obviously you have to go to the pub inside a fake Swiss cottage.
Details: The Death of a Black Man runs at Hampstead Theatre (closest tube station Swiss Cottage) until 10th July 2021. Tickets cost £10-37 and can be booked HERE.
The Invisible Hand | Kiln Theatre | New Show
Following a sold-out premiere in 2016, Ayad Akhtar’s charged and thrilling show returns to the Kiln Theatre. It’s directed by Indhu Rubasingham (behind the critically acclaimed Handbagged), and follows a kidnapped American banker given the chance to buy his freedom by raising $10m on the stock market. It’s like an economics class that you won’t even notice is happening.
Opens: 1st July
Dinner before: Czech fare at Bohemia House
Drinks after: Aperitifs upstairs, nightcaps downstairs at Heads + Tails
Details: The Invisible Hand runs at Kiln Theatre (closest tube station Brondesbury) until 31st July 2021. Tickets cost £15-32.50 and can be booked HERE.
Re:Emerge Season | Harold Pinter Theatre | New Shows
After a year that’s seen actors, stagehands, directors and techies unable to do any work in live theatre, the Pinter’s had a long look at how London’s theatre scene can come back changed for the better. Their Re:Emerge season will give a West End platform to up-and-coming writers. First up is Amy Berryman’s Walden, which drops two rival sisters (who both work at NASA) and a climate change activist in a cabin in the woods, and lets the sparks fly. Next there’s J’Ouvert, Yasmin Joseph’s fearless exploration of feminist struggles through the kaleidoscopic prism of the Notting Hill Carnival, followed by Anna X, a two-hander from Joseph Charlton set in the fast-paced world of fashion (starring The Crown’s Emma Corrin and breakout star Nabhaan Rizwan). All the performances will be filmed and streamable, and tickets start at just a tenner.
Opens: 22nd May
Dinner before: Kyoto cuisine at Machi-ya
Drinks after: Craft beers or cocktails at The Blue Posts
Details: The Re:Emerge season runs at the Harold Pinter Theatre (closest tube station Piccadilly Circus) until 4th August 2021. Tickets cost £10-74.50 and can be booked HERE.
Harm | Bush Theatre | New Show
A miserable estate agent sells a house to a glamorous influencer, and an unlikely friendship ensues. But – as you may have guessed from the title – it’s probably not all sunshine and roses. Exploring the sharp contrasts between real life and life on screen, Harm is a brand new play from award-winning emerging playwright Phoebe Eclair-Powell.
Opens: 17th May
Dinner before: 20″ wood-fired pizzas at Homeslice
Drinks after: Cosy wine spot Albertine
Details: Harm runs at the Bush Theatre (closest tube station Shepherds Bush Market) until 26th June 2021. Tickets cost £20, and can be booked HERE.
Life of Pi | Wyndham’s Theatre | New Transfer
Ok, so this one’s still a little while off – but it’s going to be pretty big when it opens in November. It’s based on Yann Martel’s iconic novel, and after an initial run in Sheffield, the critics have hailed it as “the next War Horse”. You know, the internationally touring, multi-award-winning, critically acclaimed War Horse. Sooo, you’re probably going to want to get tickets for this.
Opens: 14th November 2021
Dinner before: Get into the sea setting at J. Sheekey
Drinks after: Head to the underground bar at Wun’s Tea Room
Theatre critics say: The Guardian 5*, The Times 5*, The Stage 5*
Details: Life of Pi runs at Wyndham’s Theatre (closest tube station Leicester Square) until 27th February 2022. Tickets cost from £32.50-127.50, and can be booked HERE.
After Life | National Theatre | New Show
This new play is a stage adaptation of a beautiful Japanese film by Hirokazu Koreeda, in which those that have recently passed on find themselves in a kind of cosmic waiting room. Before passing into the afterlife, they must select a memory that will provide the setting for their own personal eternity. Moving, thoughtful, and sensitively adapted by Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), it’s set to be pretty special.
Opens: 2nd June
Dinner before: Riverside dining at Sea Containers
Drinks after: Visit the latest spot from a World’s Best Bar-winning team, Lyaness
Details: After Life runs at the National Theatre (closest tube station Waterloo) until 24th July 2021. Tickets have already sold out, but you can queue for £10 Friday Rush tickets, released online each Friday HERE.
Leopoldstadt | Wyndham’s Theatre | Returning Show
This newly-penned play has a real crack team behind it. It’s the latest (and possibly final) work by England’s national treasure of a playwright, Tom Stoppard, and has been directed by Patrick Marber (the actor/director/playwright/ultimate multi-tasker who wrote Closer). It follows the fates of six generations of a Jewish family in Vienna from 1899 – 1955, and has been hailed as a deeply personal, moving piece of theatre.
Reopens: 7th August
Dinner before: Levantine small plates at The Palomar
Drinks after: Gin nightcaps at Mr. Fogg’s Tavern
London Theatre Critics say: The Independent 5*; The Telegraph 4*; Evening Standard 4*; The Stage 4*
Details: Leopoldstadt runs at Wyndham’s Theatre (closest tube station Leicester Square) until 30th October 2021. Tickets cost £20-95 and can be booked HERE.
Love Letters | Theatre Royal Haymarket | New Show
Two friends living in different states in America somehow uphold a life-long, long-distance relationship through letters alone. Sound familiar? It’s the ideal show for Covid-era theatre – not just because of the relatable subject matter, but also because the actors can handily sit at distanced desks on the stage. Those actors happen to be long-time collaborators Martin Shaw (a.k.a. Judge John Deed) and Jenny Seagrove (also from Judge John Deed), whose sensitive performances were lauded by critics after an initial run in Windsor.
Opens: 19th May
Dinner before: Steak and seafood in the plush Hawksmoor Air Street
Drinks after: Drinks eye-to-eye with Nelson at The Rooftop
London Theatre Critics say: The Guardian 4*; The Telegraph 4*; The Stage 4*
Details: Love Letters runs at Theatre Royal Haymarket (closest tube station Piccadilly Circus) until 13th June 2021. Tickets cost £22-69.50 and can be booked HERE.
Witness For The Prosecution | London County Hall | Returning Show
A revival of Agatha Christie’s shorter-running play (read: fewer than 60 years), Witness For The Prosecution is performed in the rarely accessible (and suitably ‘20s) courtroom of London County Hall. Expect more twists and turns than a poorly-made pretzel.
Reopens: 3rd August
Dinner before: Brasserie fare by the river at Skylon
Drinks after: Cocktails with a view at the OXO Terrace Bar
London Theatre Critics say: The Telegraph 4*; The Times 4*; The Guardian 4*
Details: Witness For The Prosecution runs at London County Hall (closest tube station Waterloo) until 20th March 2022. Tickets cost from £13.50 to £105, and can be purchased HERE.
THE BEST COMEDY | LONDON THEATRE
It’s said that Shakespeare wrote King Lear, Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra while theatres were shut down due to plague. Sadly, he didn’t manage to produce anything this time- so The Globe are having to put on a few reruns instead. They’ve chosen wisely, though – there’s a trio of mood-lifting comedies, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream (with a live brass band, piñatas and a character that turns into a donkey), As You Like It (more forest-based capers including the “All The World’s A Stage” speech) and The Tempest (where a father and daughter stranded on a desert island creep out some castaways with magic). Plus – hot tip – the ‘groundling’ tickets, which are usually standing room only in the yard right in front of the stage, will be seated until 4th July – and they’re still just a fiver.
Reopens: 19th May
Dinner before: Portuguese small plates at Bar Douro
Drinks after: Tap & Bottle for wine on tap and a hidden roof terrace
Details: The summer season runs at Shakespeare’s Globe (closest tube station Cannon Street or London Bridge) until 29th August 2021. Tickets cost from £5 to £59, and can be purchased HERE.
Lava | Bush Theatre | New Show
Benedict Lombe is a writer to watch. She’s been resident at both the Bush Theatre and Theatre503, worked with the BBC Writersroom, and been shortlisted for awards with Papatango and the Royal Court. This one-woman-show marks her stage debut after a year of producing online and outdoor content, and explores a personal history amid global forces – all to a soundtrack of 90s TV shows.
Opens: 9th July
Dinner before: Indian dishes with seasonal ingredients at Kricket White City
Drinks after: Cocktails next door at Bluebird
Details: Lava runs at the Bush Theatre (closest tube station Shepherds Bush Market) until 7th August 2021. Tickets cost £20, and will be on sale soon HERE.
Reasons You Should(n’t) Love Me | Kiln Theatre | New Show
Another debut show from an award-winning writer, this is a heart-warming comedy about Juno, a woman with spina bifida, navigating the love, loneliness and beautiful chaos of being a twenty-something. Writer and performer Amy Trigg was the first wheelchair-user to graduate from a performance course at Mountview in 2013, and now she’s forging her own way towards making the industry more inclusive.
Opens: 21st May
Dinner before: Aussie fare at Milk Beach
Drinks after: Cocktails in the garden at Heads + Tails
Details: Reasons You Should(n’t) Love Me runs at the Kiln Theatre (closest tube station Brondesbury) until 12th June 2021. Tickets cost from £15-32.50, and can be booked HERE.
Bach & Sons | Bridge Theatre | New Show
The Bridge Theatre’s making its come-Bach. This new play written by the critically acclaimed Nina Raine focusses on the Baroque composer who, it turns out, was more of a character than you’d think (apparently he once stabbed a bassoonist for not playing well enough). Directed by Nicholas Hytner (former director at the NT) and starring Simon Russell-Beale (general legend), it’s set to be a musical romp that touches on the meaning of life, music, and everything in between.
Opens: 23rd June
Dinner before: Italian by the river at Tavolino
Drinks after: Fairy-lit spritzes at Bermondsey Bar and Kitchen
Details: Bach & Sons runs at the Bridge Theatre (closest tube station London Bridge) until 11th September 2021. Tickets cost from £15-69.50, and can be booked HERE.
Under Milk Wood | National Theatre | New Show
Three actors (including the inimitable Michael Sheen) bring Dylan Thomas’ comic masterpiece to life, set in the Welsh fishing village of Llareggub (read it backwards). First through their dreams, then through their daily routines, we glimpse the lives of locals like Cat the old sea captain, keen musician Organ Morgan, and Mrs. Ogmore-Pritchard, who refuses to give either of her dead husbands a minute’s rest.
Opens: 16th June
Dinner before: Go fancy at Skylon, or grab street food at the riverside KERB market
Drinks after: Riverside drinks at the National’s craft beer bar, The Understudy
Details: Under Milk Wood runs at the National Theatre (closest tube station Waterloo) until 24th July 2021. Tickets have already sold out, but you can queue for £10 Friday Rush tickets, released online each Friday, HERE.
The Play That Goes Wrong | Duchess Theatre London | Returning Show
Honestly, they could be screwing this up horribly every night and nobody would notice. In fact, they’d probably clap.
Reopens: 18th June
Dinner before: French food at er, Frenchie
Drinks after: And French wine to boot at La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels
London Theatre Critics say: The Times 4*; The Independent 4*; The Telegraph 4*; The Stage 4*
Details: The Play That Goes Wrong runs at the Duchess Theatre (closest tube station Covent Garden) until 30th January 2022. Tickets cost from £22 to £67, and can be purchased HERE.
IMMERSIVE | LONDON THEATRE
Crooks 1926 | COLAB Pub | Returning Show
COLAB have played an absolute blinder with their newest immersive theatre show. You’ll be part of a criminal network in 1920s London, trying to broker a deal with the Italian gang leader Sabini. There’s boxing matches to watch, races to fix and traitors to uncover as you follow your own individual storyline. Plus, you can dress up for the night and feel suave AF. READ MORE
Reopens: 28th May
Dinner before: Grab a quick bite at Mercato Metropolitano
Drinks after: Stay for a drink in the 20s-styled pub
London Theatre Critics say: London Theatre1 5*; Broadway World 5*; A Younger Theatre 4* (…and we bloody loved it)
Details: Crooks 1926 runs at the COLAB Pub (closest tube station Elephant & Castle) until 29th August. Tickets cost £49-119, and can be booked HERE.
Main image: Singin’ in the Rain
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