London Theatre – The Best Shows Right Now
Last Updated: 12th August 2019 | Main Image: Shakespeare’s Globe
Ever since the dawn of time, 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 playing 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?”
And the answer is… well, here.
Jump Straight To: MUSICALS | DRAMA | COMEDY | IMMERSIVE
THE BEST NEW MUSICALS IN LONDON
Fiddler on the Roof | Playhouse Theatre
Hot on the heels of a sell-out run at the Menier Chocolate Factory fringe theatre, this revival by award-winning director Trevor Nunn is in the West End for a limited run. Following a turn-of-the-century Jewish family faced with an eviction notice by the Tsar of Russia, the original Broadway show won nine Tony awards, and this revival, combining new and original choreography, has won just as much acclaim…
Dinner before: Top-notch tapas at Barrafina
Drinks after: Wine by the river at Gordon’s Wine Bar
Critics say: The Guardian 5*; The Telegraph 5*; The Evening Standard 4*
Details: Fiddler on the Roof runs at the Playhouse Theatre (closest tube station Embankment) until 2nd November 2019. Tickets start at £20 – book 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 been lavished with praise for its previous run on Broadway.
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 February 2020. Tickets cost £19.50-125, and can be booked HERE.
Blues In The Night | Kiln Theatre, London
Matt Humphrey for Kiln Theatre
An Olivier award-winning cast perform an Olivier award-nominated musical in a critically acclaimed revival. Featuring the music of Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, Johnny Mercer and the like, it’s a soulful jazz and blues-filled dip into the stories of four residents of a downtown hotel.
Dinner before: It’s worth the trek to Milk Beach
Drinks after: A cosy pint at the North London Tavern
London Theatre Critics say: The Guardian 4*; Evening Standard 4*; Financial Times 4*
Details: Blues in the Night runs at Kiln Theatre (closest tube station Kilburn) until 7th September 2019. Tickets cost £12.50-£32.50 and can be booked HERE.
What Girls Are Made Of | Soho Theatre
A real-life, autobiographical musical about what it’s like to make it…and then hate it. READ MORE
Dinner before: Tasting plates of fresh pasta at Lina Stores.
Drinks after: Straight-up delicious cocktails at Murder Inc.
London Theatre Critics say: The Telegraph 5*; Evening Standard 4*; The Times 4*
Details: What Girls Are Made Of is running at Soho Theatre (closest tube station Leicester Square) from the 9th until the 28th of September. Tickets cost £11-£24 and can be booked HERE.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie | Apollo Theatre, London
This title could have been reaaally embarrassing if the show hadn’t taken off. Luckily, London theatre critics are 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.
Dinner before: Retro Taiwanese at Xu
Drinks after: Cocktails from The Palomar team at The Blue Posts
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 25th January 2020. Tickets cost from £20 and can be purchased HERE.
Hamilton | Victoria Palace Theatre, London
Unless you’ve been living under a particularly well-soundproofed rock for the past few months, you’ll no doubt be vaguely aware that the biggest musical theatre event to drop this century has come 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 has already earned a record-breaking 13 Olivier nominations for its troubles…
Dinner before: Upmarket comfort food at Rail House Café
Drinks after: The Drunken Oyster above Hai Cenato
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 30th November 2019. They cost from £20 to £200, and can be purchased HERE.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat | Palladium Theatre
It’s the typical story of an average (biblical) Joe who gets a fancy coat, gets sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, meets the Pharoah, gets thrown into jail for rejecting the Pharoah’s wife, and eventually wins his freedom with his ability to read dreams, all while making a right song and dance about it. This iconic musical has scooped bucketloads of awards since it was written 50 years ago, and this year’s revival, with Sheridan Smith and Jason Donovan, has been hugely well received.
Dinner before: Elegant tapas at Aqua Nueva
Drinks after: Rooftop cocktails at Aqua Spirit
London Theatre Critics say: The Telegraph 4*; The Guardian 4*; The Stage 4*
Details: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat runs at the Palladium Theatre (closest tube station Oxford Circus) until 8th September. Tickets cost from £20-£150, and can be purchased HERE.
Jesus Christ Superstar | Barbican
You know how it is with Andrew Lloyd-Webber & Tim Rice biblical musicals. You wait for ages, then two come along at once.
And by all accounts, London’s getting pretty spoilt – this production has been selling-out at the Regent’s Park Open-Air Theatre for the last few years, and now it’s getting a solid roof over its head at the Barbican. It’s a rock musical about Jesus, and if that doesn’t sell it, then nothing will.
Dinner before: Look for a Little Quiet
Drinks after: Cocktails and jazz at Oriole
London Theatre Critics say: Evening Standard 4*; London Theatre 5*
Details: Jesus Christ Superstar runs at the Barbican (closest tube station… Barbican) until 24th August. Tickets cost £15-£62.50, and can be booked HERE.
Matilda The Musical | Cambridge Theatre, London
A show in which a genius-level child with telekinetic powers somehow starts off as an underdog, this long-running musical take on the classic Dahl tale – produced by theatre nobility, the RSC – has had critics positively raving. And with good reason too – with lyrics by the inimitable Tim Minchin, ridiculously catchy tunes and a genuinely exceptional cast of kids, there’s not a single hole in this colourful patchwork of song and dance.
Dinner before: Steaming hot ramen at Kanada-Ya
Drinks after: Negronis at Bar Termini
London Theatre Critics say: The Telegraph 5*; The Guardian 5*; The Evening Standard 5*; The Independent 5*
Details: Matilda The Musical runs at the Cambridge Theatre (closest tube station Covent Garden) until 24th May 2020. Tickets cost from £20 to £122.50, and can be purchased HERE.
Showstopper! The Improvised Musical | Lyric Theatre
Despite recently performing their 1,000th show, the Showstopper team still haven’t run out of ideas. Every night they create a brand new, totally off-the-cuff musical based on suggestions shouted out by the audience. And every night, it’s somehow excellent.
Dinner before: Taiwanese wonders at XU
Drinks after: Knock on the door of the Experimental Cocktail Club
London Theatre Critics say: The Telegraph 5*; The Times 5*; Evening Standard 4*
Details: Showstopper! The Improvised Musical has monthly shows at the Lyric Theatre. Tickets cost from £15 and can be purchased HERE.
SIX | Arts 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. After sell-out runs in Edinburgh and London, and rapturous reviews, it’s back for a year-long run. Expect neon ruffs; Greensleeves-techno mash ups and unexpected moments of vulnerability interspersed with its high-energy score.
Dinner before: Modern European with a view at Garden Room
Drinks after: Mezcal-laced cocktails at The Lost Alpaca
London Theatre Critics say: Evening Standard 5*; The Times 4*; The Telegraph 4*
Details: Six runs at the Arts Theatre (closest tube station Leicester Square) until January 2020. Tickets cost from £8 and can be purchased HERE.
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ | Ambassadors Theatre
An all singing, all dancing adaptation of Sue Townsend’s angsty tween-age novel.
Dinner before: tacos and tostadas at La Bodega Negra
Drinks after: theatrical cocktails at Mr Fogg’s Society Of Exploration
London Theatre Critics say: The Guardian 4*; Evening Standard 4*; The Telegraph 4*
Details: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ is running at the Ambassadors Theatre (closest tube station Covent Garden) until 12th October. Tickets cost £20-£83, and can be booked HERE.
Evita | Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Eva Perón once said, “My biggest fear in life is to be forgotten”. So like a gentleman, Andrew Lloyd Webber stepped in and wrote a musical (with Oscar-winning songs) in her honour. Celebrating the passion, charisma and patriotism of the former First Lady of Argentina, Evita gets a radical new staging here (courtesy of renowned director Jamie Lloyd) in the huge, open-air theatre sat in the middle of Regent’s Park – buy a boozy hot chocolate and watch her story unfold under the stars.
Dinner before: Middle Eastern fare from ex-Ottolengi chefs at Honey & Co
Drinks after: Straight-forward subterranean tipples at The Lucky Pig
London Theatre Critics say: The Telegraph 5*; The Guardian 4*
Details: Evita is running at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre (closest tube Regent’s Park) until the 21st of September. Tickets cost £25-£65 and can be booked HERE.
THE BEST DRAMA | LONDON THEATRE
Barber Shop Chronicles | Roundhouse
Barbershops aren’t always in perfect harmony. In fact, they’re where debates are held, arguments settled, and friendships begun – and that’s the premise behind Inua Ellams’ critically acclaimed play. Using verbatim conversations taken from African barber shops around the world, it’s a life-affirming show that’s simultaneously hilarious, heartwarming and insightful.
Dinner before: Go wild at The Cheese Bar
Drinks after: Take a bottle down to BYOC
London Theatre Critics say: The Independent 5*; The Guardian 4*; The Telegraph 4*
Details: Barber Shop Chronicles runs at the Roundhouse (closest tube station Chalk Farm) until 24th August. Tickets cost £15-£59.50 and can be booked HERE.
Equus | Trafalgar Studios
Dark, startling, and thrilling, Peter Schaffer’s 1970s psychosexual drama is still striking, if a little old-school, in this acclaimed production by Theatre Royal Stratford East. Focussing on the young Alan Strang (who blinds six horses in a pathological frenzy) and his psychiatrist Dr. Dysart, it’s a seminal play, with impressive flashes of physical theatre in this new production.
Dinner before: Classic steaks at Flat Iron
Drinks after: Cocktails in the Orient Express at Mr. Fogg’s Society of Exploration
London Theatre Critics say: The Telegraph 5*; The Observer 5*
Details: Equus runs at Trafalgar Studios (closest tube station Charing Cross) until 7th September. Tickets cost £27.50-£77 and can be booked HERE.
The Son | Duke Of York Theatre
After a sold-out run at Kiln Theatre, Florian Zeller’s deeply moving finale to his three-part, family-focused trilogy transfers to the West End. Whilst the preceding plays expose us to the painful realities of both dementia and middle-aged angst, this time we experience life through the eyes of a son suffering from a crippling depression, caught between divorced parents, confused, and unable to cope.
Dinner before: Modern Iranian food from an ex-Palomar chef at Nutshell
Drinks after: Creative cocktails at Adam Handling’s Eve
London Theatre Critics say: The Telegraph 5*; The Guardian 4*; The Standard 4*
Details: The Son runs at Duke Of York Theatre (closest tube station Leicester Square) until the 2nd of November. Tickets cost £15-£90 and can be booked HERE.
The Secret River | National Theatre
The Secret River is a play that starts as a gentle meander and ends rushing headfirst into a waterfall. It’s based on Kate Grenville’s novel about a 19th century Englishman who’s transported to Australia for theft, and explores the complex relations between these new colonisers and the Aboriginal people who found their homes and livelihoods shifting around them. Strikingly lit, hauntingly soundtracked and beautifully adapted, it’s performed by an incredible cast, some of whom have been touring the show for six years (it debuted in Australia in 2013 to rapturous reviews). Fresh off the back of a run in Edinburgh, the show’s coming to London for a fortnight – don’t miss it.
Dinner before: Elegant bistro fare at The Laughing Gravy
Drinks after: ‘Infinite banana’ cocktails at Lyaness
London Theatre Critics say: The Telegraph 5*; The Guardian 4*; The Times 4*
Details: The Secret River runs at the National Theatre (closest tube station Waterloo) from 22nd August – 7th September 2019. Tickets cost from £15-£89, and can be purchased HERE.
The Lehman Trilogy | Piccadilly Theatre
Plays about big financial crises can leave you in a depression. But this elegant translation of Italian playwright Stefano Massini’s three-act play tells the unexpectedly captivating story of the Lehman Brothers, from the humble Alabama cloth shop opened by three German Jewish immigrant brothers, to their grandson, who ran what had by then become America’s fourth largest investment bank into the ground. Superbly performed by a cast of three multi-roling actors (Simon Russell Beale, Ben Miles and Adam Godley) and directed by Olivier award-winning Sam Mendes, this show’s headed for anything but a slump.
Dinner before: Indian small plates with a British accent at Kricket
Drinks after: Art deco cocktails at Bar Américain
London Theatre Critics say: The Telegraph 5*; The Times 5*; The Guardian 5*
Details: The Lehman Trilogy runs at the Piccadilly Theatre (closest tube station Piccadilly Circus) until 31st August 2019. Tickets cost £18+, and you can book HERE.
Witness For The Prosecution | London County Hall
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.
Dinner before: Homely ramen at Yamagoya
Drinks after: Cocktails with a view on 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 March 2020. Tickets cost from £10 to £95, and can be purchased HERE.
THE BEST COMEDY | LONDON THEATRE
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.
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 3rd May 2020. Tickets cost from £20 to £67.50, and can be purchased HERE.
Noises Off | Garrick Theatre, London
After a raved-about run at the Lyric, Noises off – Michael Frayn’s hilarious, Olivier-winning comedy – is transferring to the West End. Directed by Jeremy Herrin (Wolf Hall, All My Sons), with a cast including Meera Syal (The Kumars), the show follows an unruly theatre company as they attempt to rehearse and stage ‘the disastrous flop, Nothing On’.
Dinner before: Venetian small plates at Polpo
Drinks after: penthouse cocktails at Garden Room
London Theatre Critics say: The Guardian 4*, Evening Standard 4*
Details: Noises Off runs at Garrick Theatre (closest tube Leicester Square) from the 24th of September to the 4th of January. Tickets cost £18-£107.50 and can be booked HERE.
IMMERSIVE | LONDON THEATRE
A Midsummer Night’s Dream | Bridge Theatre
William Shakespeare invented at least 422 words we still use today, wrote some of the most affecting dramatic literature in the English language, and helped to transform the image of theatre as a morally dubious pastime to a respected art form.
He also wrote a character called Bottom.
This play features that Bottom, and has been reinvented as an interactive spectacle by lauded director Nicholas Hytner. With a starry cast, original music and an enchanting setting, his take on the classic tale of fairy feuds and mixed-up lovers has got the thumbs up from critics.
Dinner before: Head to St. John, conveniently in the theatre itself.
Drinks after: Sip cocktails on the Coppa Club riverside terrace
London Theatre critics say: Evening Standard 5*; The Telegraph 5*; The Observer 5*
Details: A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs at the Bridge Theatre (closest tube station London Bridge) until 31st August. Tickets cost £15-95 and can be booked HERE.
The Great Gatsby | Mystery Location, London
This isn’t your average, everyday, garden variety Gatsby. It’s the great one, and he’s throwing one heck of a party… Eavesdrop on secret bedroom conversations, connive with the characters, and throw some serious jazz hands.
Dinner before: We couldn’t possibly give the location away…
Drinks after: No, really we can’t.
London Theatre Critics say: British Theatre Guide 5*; The Guardian 4*; The Stage 4*
Details: The Great Gatsby runs somewhere mysterious (closest tube station Borough…) until 1st September 2020. Tickets cost £32.50, and can be purchased HERE.
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