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.
Opening this week: A new take on Hamlet starring Cush Jumbo (The Good Wife) at the Young Vic, which opens on the 27th, and The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer’s largely autobiographical play about the AIDS crisis in 80s New York.
Book now: The Tragedy of Macbeth at the Almeida, starring James McArdle and Saoirse Ronan in a chilling production directed by the queen of gritty theatre, Yaël Farber (opens 1st October).
Jump Straight To: MUSICALS | DRAMA | COMEDY | IMMERSIVE
THE BEST MUSICALS IN LONDON
Anything Goes | Barbican
It’s a cult classic, with Cole Porter’s jazzy tunes (‘I Get A Kick Out of You’, ‘Anything Goes’) played by a full orchestra, a glitzy set, and a chorus of tap-dancing sailors. The all-star cast includes Robert Lindsay, Felicity Kendal, Gary Wilmot and Sutton Foster, who’s reprising the leading role for which she won a Tony back on Broadway.
Dinner before: St. John for the carnivores, Stem + Glory for the vegans
Drinks after: Dip beneath Smithfield Market at Oriole
London Theatre Critics say: The Guardian 5*, The Times 5*, The Telegraph 5*
Details: Anything Goes runs at the Barbican (closest tube station Barbican) until 6th November 2021. Tickets cost £25-175, and can be booked HERE.
Cinderella | Gillian Lynne Theatre
Cinderella’s had 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 made its world debut this summer. It stars Carrie Hope Fletcher in the title role and reinvents the original with a new plot-line – including a fairy godmother who moonlights as a surgeon – and that characteristically brilliant Lloyd-Webber orchestration that’s won plaudits from critics all round… READ MORE
Dinner before: Delicate seafood in a former fishmongers at Parsons
Drinks after: A lovely bottle at The 10 Cases
London Theatre Critics say: The Guardian 5*, Evening Standard 4*, The Times 4*, The Telegraph 4*
Details: Cinderella runs at the Gillian Lynne Theatre (closest tube station Holborn) until 29th May 2022. Tickets cost £25-140, and can be booked HERE.
Back To The Future: The Musical | Adelphi Theatre
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
Dinner before: Steak at 1985 prices at Flat Iron Covent Garden
Drinks after: Hand-picked wines at Lady of the Grapes
London Theatre Critics say: The Metro 5*, The Telegraph 5*, Michael J. Fox: “A truly great show.”
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.
Hairspray | London Coliseum
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.
Dinner before: Glorious Iranian dishes at Nutshell
Drinks after: Explore the menu at Mr. Fogg’s Society of Exploration
London Theatre Critics say: The Times 5*, The Guardian 4*
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
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.
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 12th February 2022. Tickets cost £20-125, and can be booked HERE.
The Last Five Years | Garrick Theatre
We don’t want to spoil the ending to this… but the musical kind of does that anyway. This innovative, award-winning show charts the rise and fall of a relationship, with one character telling the story from its beginning, the other from its tumultuous end. In this production, the actors play their own ukeleles, guitar and piano as they sing, and it’s proved a huge success.
Dinner before: Handmade pasta at Bancone
Drinks after: Candlelit vino at Gordon’s Wine Bar
London Theatre Critics say: The Stage 5*; The Independent 4*
Details: The Last Five Years runs at the Garrick Theatre (closest tube station Leicester Square) until 17th October 2021. Tickets cost £21.50-62.50, and can be purchased HERE.
Dear Evan Hansen | Noël Coward Theatre
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
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.
Hamilton | Victoria Palace Theatre, London
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…
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 19th December 2021. They cost from £41.75-£100, and can be purchased HERE.
Mary Poppins | Prince Edward Theatre
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.
Dinner before: French food and 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 13th February 2022. Tickets cost £40-89.50, and can be purchased HERE.
SIX | Lyric Theatre London
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.
Dinner before: Cult dumplings at Din Tai Fung
Drinks after: Subterranean cocktails at Eve
London Theatre Critics say: Evening Standard 5*; The Times 4*; The Telegraph 4*
Details: Six runs at the Vaudeville Theatre (closest tube station Charing Cross) until 1st May 2022. Tickets cost from £29.50-67.50, and can be purchased HERE.
Amelie | The Criterion
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. READ MORE
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 until the 25th September 2021. Tickets cost £25-£125 and can be booked HERE.
THE BEST DRAMA | LONDON THEATRE
Life of Pi | Wyndham’s Theatre
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.
Leopoldstadt | Wyndham’s Theatre
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.
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.
Indecent | Menier Chocolate Factory
This Tony-award winning show has finally been able to raise the curtain after its slated opening in March 2020 – and it was worth the wait. It tells the true story of the people who risked their careers – and lives – to stage Sholem Asch’s highly controversial play The God of Vengeance in the 1920s. Accompanied by a live klezmer band, and with a cast of seven covering over forty roles, it’s a profound play that shifts from obscenity trials to the horrors of the Holocaust with striking effect.
Dinner before: Fluffy-as-a-cloud buns at Bao Borough
Drinks after: Casual al fresco drinks at Flat Iron Square
London Theatre Critics say: The Times 4*, The Guardian 4*
Details: Indecent runs at the Menier Chocolate Factory (closest tube station London Bridge) until 27th November 2021. Tickets cost £37.50-49.50 and can be booked HERE.
Is God Is | Royal Court
Aleshea Harris’ award-winning play revenge tale follows two women travelling from the Southern states to the Californian desert, determined to avenge their mother. And its UK premiere, directed by the lauded Ola Ince, has already been hugely well-received for its powerful clash of epic Greek tragedy with Tarantino-esque, graphic novel-style gore and dark humour.
Dinner before: Indian fine dining at Kutir
Drinks after: Cocktails on the roof at Vardo
London Theatre Critics say: The Independent 5*, The Guardian 4*, Evening Standard 4*
Details: Is God Is runs at the Royal Court (closest tube station Sloane Square) until 23rd October 2021. Tickets cost £12-45, and can be booked HERE.
The Mirror and The Light | Gielgud Theatre
When the RSC adapted Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, Hilary Mantel’s critically acclaimed novels about the Tudor court, the shows transferred to London, then Broadway, and won a slew of Tony and Olivier awards. Now the grand finale to the trilogy is about to come to the stage with Nat Parker and Ben Miles reprising their roles as Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell respectively, and it’s set to be a pretty big deal…
Dinner before: Swing by the rebooted Dishoom Covent Garden
Drinks after: Perfected negronis at Bar Termini
Details: The Mirror and The Light runs at the Gielgud Theatre (closest tube station Leicester Square) until 23rd January 2022. Tickets cost £17.50-127.50 and can be booked HERE.
NW Trilogy | Kiln Theatre
This theatrical triptych depicts the diversity of the Kiln’s home borough, Brent, with new plays commissioned from writers Moira Buffini, Roy Williams and Suhayla El-Bushra. Set in the 60s and 70s, they variously follow a young Irish girl who discovers she’s pregnant, a teenager attempting to reconnect with his father who left in pursuit of a career in reggae, and a woman caught between family life and joining her colleagues in protesting terrible working conditions at the Grunwick factory. The cast flit dextrously between the plays, and there’s some rousing live music to boot.
Dinner before: Greek al fresco dining at Meze NW6
Drinks after: Aussie wine at Milk Beach
London Theatre Critics say: The Guardian 4*, The Times 4*, The Independent 4*
Details: NW Trilogy runs at the Kiln Theatre (closest tube station Brondesbury) until 9th October 2021. Tickets cost £15-32.50, and can be booked HERE.
THE BEST COMEDY | LONDON THEATRE
A Midsummer Night’s Dream | As You Like It | The Tempest | Shakespeare’s Globe
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 duo of mood-lifting comedies played by the same cast; A Midsummer Night’s Dream (with a live brass band, piñatas and a character that turns into a donkey) and Twelfth Night (which takes the bard’s tale of mistaken identity and sets it in the realm of Americana). They’re joined by an atmospheric production of Romeo & Juliet starring the charming Alfie Enoch and Rebekah Murrell as the star-crossed lovers.
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 30th October 2021. Tickets cost from £5 to £59, and can be purchased HERE.
The Play That Goes Wrong | Duchess Theatre London
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
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 loved it)
Details: Crooks 1926 runs at the COLAB Pub (closest tube station Elephant & Castle) until 18th December. Tickets cost £49-119, and can be booked HERE.
Main image: Anything Goes
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