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50 of the most eagerly anticipated theatre shows

Your must-see list for the coming months

Sam Tutty
© Matt Crockett for Dewynters

Some sunny outbursts may have lulled us into a false sense of Indian Summer security but with a cold spell coming we're in no doubt that we're tipping headfirst into autumn. They're already selling Christmas biscuits in M&S and we might even put the heating on in WOS Towers.

It's not all doom and gloom though. It's positively Spring-like in Theatreland as quite a few shows have been dusted out of theatres to make way for sparkly new, exciting productions that we can't wait to see. There's so much to choose from so we've selected some of our most eagerly anticipated new shows for the rest of the year and beyond. Then we've broken them down into categories that we hope will make it easier for you – depending on where you are, your personal taste and whom you're going with. Enjoy!



New plays

Leopoldstadt (Wyndham's Theatre)

Tom Stoppard
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Tom Stoppard brings a pertinent new play to the West End – we haven't heard from the playwright in a while so this will surely be a big theatrical occasion. From 25 January


The Antipodes (National Theatre)

Arthur Darvill, Conleth Hill and Sinéad Matthews
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

The perfect pairing of Annie Baker and the National Theatre (responsible for the astounding John and The Flick) returns for this fantastic new play (we've read it and it's ace) featuring an all-star cast. From 21 October


Snowflake (Kiln Theatre)

Snowflake

Mike Bartlett has two shows running in London this winter – one adaptation at the Almeida and this gripping play (which initially ran in Oxford last winter) which is set during Christmas and, in typical Bartlett style, reflects a family in crisis at Christmas time. From 10 December


Fairview (Young Vic)

Jackie Sibblies Drury
(© Ali Wright 2015)

Jackie Sibblies Drury's drama has been on the horizon for a while and, now that it's won the Pulitzer Prize, it's a hot ticket for all theatre punters. Considering how quickly a lot of Young Vic shows sell out, it's worth bagging your seat now. From 28 November


The Doctor (Duke of York's)

Juliet Stevenson in The Doctor
© Manuel Harlan

It had a storming sell-out run at the Almeida and its transfer to the West End cannot come too soon – it's a little way off but we recommend booking as soon as possible! From 20 April 2020




New musicals

Dear Evan Hansen (Noël Coward Theatre)

Sam Tutty
© Matt Crockett for Dewynters

We've been waiting for forever but the UK premiere of smash Tony Award-winning Dear Evan Hansen is only mere months away! The cast is led by newcomer Sam Tutty and we're pretty sure it'll be an epic occasion for the West End. From 29 October


The Prince of Egypt (Dominion Theatre)

Liam Tamne, Alexia Khadime, Christine Allado and Luke Brady
© Darren Bell

The Dominion Theatre is having a busy time of it over the next six months – welcoming Big, White Christmas and the eagerly anticipated UK premiere of The Prince of Egypt, based on the hit DreamWorks film of the same name. The cast is full of West End pros and award-winners, so expect a massive spectacle in one of London's biggest venues. From 5 February 2020


& Juliet (Shaftesbury Theatre)

The & Juliet cast living it large
© Johan Persson

What would happen if, rather than dying, Juliet had decided to go out and live her best life? That's the basic premise for the new musical & Juliet, which features the music of impresario Max Martin (responsible for some of the biggest hits of the last 30 years). The show has had a rollicking ride during an initial run in Manchester and we can't wait for it to be lapped up by audiences in London. From 2 November


High Fidelity (Turbine Theatre)

Eleanor Kane, Shanay Holmes and Oliver Ormson
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

People may remember the ever-quotable film adaptation starring John Cusack and Jack Black, but the stellar novel is brought back to its London home in a re-written show at the swanky Turbine Theatre in Battersea. From 21 October


Ghost Quartet (Boulevard Theatre)

The cast of Ghost Quartet
© Helen Maybanks

Soho is getting a swanky new theatre in the form of the Boulevard Theatre – a plush, intimate and very high-tech space that opens with the London premiere of Dave Malloy's ethereal and exciting Ghost Quartet. From 24 October




Best Midlands openings

West Side Story (Curve)

Adriana Ivelisse and Jamie Muscato in West Side Story
© Ellie Kurtz

Our second West Side Story of the year comes from one of the biggest regional powerhouses around – Curve in Leicester. With a crack cast we know we're in store for something good. From 23 November


The Boy in the Dress (Royal Shakespeare Theatre)

Forbes Masson, Irvine Iqbal, Rufus Hound and Natasha Lewis
© All except far right: Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

The RSC has an uncanny knack for creating brilliant musicals – you only need to look at Les Mis or Matilda as proof. We're expecting great things from the upcoming The Boy in the Dress, which has a pretty dreamy creative team featuring composition by Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers, alongside a book by Mark Ravenhill and a star-studded cast. From 8 November


Asking For It (Birmingham Rep)

Asking for It
© Hugh O'Conor

The award-winning stage adaptation of Louise O'Neill's novel Asking For It was a major hit over the Irish Sea – it now comes to the UK for the first time in Birmingham. From 31 January 2020


Piaf (Nottingham Playhouse)

Jenna Russell
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Jenna Russell – on stage – as Piaf. What more needs to be said. It's seven months away but we're already excited. From 8 May 2020


The Season

The Season

Jim Barne and Kit Buchan are the recipients of the Stiles Drewe Mentorship Award and their romantic comedy musical sounds like a lovely winter treat – following Dougal and Robyn who travel from Northampton to New York for a wedding and slowly form an attachment. Royal and Derngate and New Wolsey Ipswich, 1 to 30 November 2019




Best northern openings

Back to the Future

Olly Dobson as Marty McFly

Great Scott – it's finally happening! The iconic '80s film Back to the Future is coming to the stage, with Olly Dobson stepping into the self-tying sneakers of Marty McFly. A West End date hasn't been announced yet, but you won't need a time machine to predict it won't take long for the show to continue its life after an initial run in Manchester. Manchester Opera House, 20 February until 17 May 2020


Mame (Hope Mill Theatre)

Tracie Bennett (Mame) with the cast of Mame
© Pamela Raith

It hasn't been professionally revived in over 50 years, so it seems only fair that the show gets a cast as brilliant as Tracie Bennett and Harriet Thorpe to lead the Hope Mill production. Until 9 November, then touring


There are no beginnings (Leeds Playhouse)

Julie Hesmondhalgh
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Charley Miles' new play is due to premiere at The Leeds Playhouse in October and does not appear to be for the faint-hearted. Set amidst the Yorkshire Ripper murders that terrified the North during the 1970s, There are no beginnings focuses upon the women whose lives were ruled by fear, anger and solidarity during this period. From 11 October


The Glee Club (Cast Doncaster and tour)

The Glee Club

Richard Cameron's play is a much-loved treat, and seeing it on a major tour is a nice way to start the new year. From 28 February


The Monstrous Heart (Traverse Theatre)

The Monstrous Heart

Gareth Nicholls had a blast recently with Crocodile Fever – he now oversees the world premiere of Oliver Emanuel's intriguing The Monstrous Heart, set in a rustic Canadian cabin. From 22 October




Best south / south-west openings

My Cousin Rachel (Theatre Royal Bath)

Simon Shepherd, Helen George and Jack Holden
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

The book has wowed readers for decades, so this newly rejigged stage version looks like it'll capture the same sense of intrigue. Helen George leads the cast. From 13 November


Cyrano (Bristol Old Vic)

Patrycja Kujawska and Felix Hayes
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Our first Cyrano on this list opens in Bristol and is full of some of the cities' finest acting crop. Swashbuckling stage stories don't get more fun than this one! From 12 October


One Under (Theatre Royal Plymouth )

One Under

Winsome Pinnock is an awesome writer, and we're excited to see this touring production of her play One Under, re-jigged alongside accessible theatre company Graeae and Theatre Royal Plymouth. From 17 October


Hedda Gabler (Sherman Theatre)

Hedda Gabler

Hit director Chelsea Walker oversees a new production of Brian Friel's version of Ibsen's fraught drama, which runs in Cardiff. From 18 October


Cinderella (Nuffield Southampton Theatres)

CinderELLA

New musicals are always a treat, and adaptors Michael Fentiman and Barnaby Race come with a lot of heft after they transformed Amélie into a stellar show. Valda Aviks stars in this re-tooled version of the classic fairytale. From 23 November




Best for the little ones

Oi Frog & Friends (Lyric Theatre)

Oi Frog & Friends

Kes Gray and Jim Field‘s bestselling and award-winning picture books will leap off the page and onto the stage in this new West End production. From 29 November


Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs: The Magic Cutlass (Leicester Square Spiegeltent)

Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs: The Magic Cutlass

Les Petits Enfants has been wowing audiences for years and this festive offering looks like it'll be the perfect Christmas treat, right in the heart of the West End. From 7 December


Peppa Pig's Best Ever Day (Duke of York's Theatre)

Peppa Pig's Best Day Ever
© Dan Tsantilis

As any parent knows, there is never too much Peppa Pig in the world. So the show will enchant audiences in the West End across the Christmas period. From 29 November


Anansi the Spider (Unicorn Theatre)

Anansi the Spider
© Craig Sugden

We gave Justin Audibert's inventive family friendly Anansi a stellar write-up at the Unicorn and with such reviewer clout it'll surely do well among the toughest critics of all – youngsters! Until 27 October


The Paper Dolls (Polka Theatre)

The Paper Dolls
© Ellie Kurttz

Polka Theatre had a plush refurb recently so we're excited for its offering of The Paper Dolls, based on Julia Donaldson's hit novel. From 9 December




Best for the too-cool-for-school kids

Teenage Dick (Donmar Warehouse)

Daniel Monks in Teenage Dick
© Donmar Warehouse

Reimagining Richard III into a high school scenario, with Daniel Monks playing a senior plotting to become president of his class? Sounds like a fun twist on the Bard. The show clocked in at 100 minutes when it played off-Broadway, so we're guessing Michael Longhurst's production of the comic take on a Shakespearean tragedy will be something similar. Great for those with limited attention spans! From 6 December


Ghost Stories (Ambassadors Theatre)

Simon Lipkin in the Lyric Hammersmith run of Ghost Stories
© Chris Payne

If spooky stories are what you're after – look no further than the West End transfer of Ghost Stories, which is ready to send a heap of chills down spines at the Ambassadors Theatre before heading out on the open road in 2020. From 3 October, then tour


The Bee in Me (Unicorn Theatre)

The Bee and Me

The Unicorn always creates engaging shows for young people, and this UK premiere of the German play by Roland Schimmelpfennig looks like it will make imaginations soar. From 31 January 2020


The Ocean at the End of the Lane (National Theatre)

Ocean at the End of the Lane

Author of celebrated novels such as Coraline and Stardust, Neil Gaiman's latest outing debuts at the National Theatre in early December. Predictably for the writer, this production looks set to be an enchanting journey filled with wonder and imagination. From 3 December


Magic Goes Wrong (Vaudeville Theatre)

Henry Shields, Henry Lewis and Roxy Faridany
© Robert Day

We're hoping Mischief Theatre's brand new show (created with legendary magic duo Penn and Teller) does exactly what it says on the tin – lots of magic, lots of things going wrong. From 14 December




Best for the whole family

Hairspray (London Coliseum)

Michael Ball
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

The Olivier Award-winning production is back with Ball at its beating heart – this time at the epic Coliseum. Full casting hasn't been announced yet but we expect wonders. From 23 April 2020


Mary Poppins (Prince Edward Theatre)

Zizi Strallen and Charlie Stemp

At the start of the year, we got the practically perfect word that Mary Poppins was heading back into the West End. Zizi Strallen and Charlie Stemp star. From 23 October


Goldilocks and the Three Bears (London Palladium)

Julian Clary, Matt Baker and Paul O'Grady
(© )

Panto at the Palladium is always a recipe for good things – Matt Baker joins returning stars Paul O'Grady and Julian Clary. From 7 December


The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Bridge Theatre)

The cast
© Craig Sugden

The show had a spellbinding run in Leeds and its return is very overdue. Director Sally Cookson's recent version of A Monster Calls won three Olivier Awards – so this comes with even more clout. From 9 November


101 Dalmations – the Musical (Open Air Theatre)

Regent's Park Open Air Theatre
© Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

How will they bring all 101 dogs to the stage? We don't know, but we recommend planning well ahead and booking now just to find out. From 17 May 2020




Best to split your sides

Noises Off (Garrick Theatre)

Noises Off
© Helen Maybanks

Meta-theatrical farces don't come with more pedigree than Noises Off – the show gets a much-needed West End transfer after a five-star run at the Lyric Hammersmith. Until 4 January 2020


Groan Ups (Vaudeville Theatre)

Groan Ups
© Mischief Theatre

Our second Mischief Theatre show on the list is the intriguing Groan Ups – stepping away from the typical "Goes Wrong" brand the show opens the company's residency at the Vaudeville Theatre. Until 1 December


The Man in the White Suit (Wyndham's Theatre)

The cast of The Man in the White Suit
© Nobby Clark

Stephen Mangan and Kara Tointon appear in this stage version of the hit Ealing Comedy – directed by The Ladykillers' Sean Foley. It looks like a winter warmer of a production! Until 11 January


God's Dice (Soho Theatre)

Alan Davies and Leila Mimmack
© Helen Maybanks

Alan Davies returns to the stage in this intriguing highbrow play from David Baddiel at the Soho – one of the homes of cracking new writing. From 24 October


An Act of God (The Vaults)

Zoe Lyons in An Act of God

Zoe Lyons stars in the UK premiere of the big Broadway hit – about the deity on high as she writes a load of new commandments. From 27 November




Best for stargazing

Lungs (Old Vic)

Matt Smith and Claire Foy in rehearsals for Lungs
© Manuel Harlan

Matt Smith and Claire Foy reunite in Duncan Macmillan's pertinent and rather brilliant play, which is overseen by the venue's artistic director Matthew Warchus. From 14 October


Sunday in the Park with George (Savoy Theatre)

Jake Gyllenhaal
© Matthew Murphy

Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford were the toast of Broadway when they starred in Sondheim's musical over in the States – we're sure they'll repeat the trick here. The show's a way off but it's worth getting ahead of the trend now! From 11 June 2020


Cyrano de Bergerac (Playhouse)

James McAvoy in Cyrano de Bergerac
© The Jamie Lloyd Company

James McAvoy has long been a West End supporter – he now returns to the stage in Jamie Lloyd's production of the classic piece. There are thousands of discount tickets available too to bring in new audiences. From 27 November


Endgame (Old Vic)

Alan Cumming and Daniel Radcliffe
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Alan Cummings and Daniel Radcliffe are two performers at the top of their game – and to see them on stage together in a Beckett revival will be a bit of a treat. From 27 January 2020


Blithe Spirit (Duke of York's Theatre)

Jennifer Saunders as Madame Arcati
© Nobby Clark

The ever-hilarious Jennifer Saunders returns to the stage in the touring and West End-bound revival of Blithe Spirit, which got a wad of critical praise when it first ran in Bath. In the West End from 5 March 2020

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