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Six female-led shows to catch this autumn

The coming months are chock-full of female-led shows

Six on stage
© Idil Sukan

Autumn is around the corner and that means it's time to start planning some theatre trips!

We've taken inspiration from everyone's favourite musical about the wives of Henry VIII and listed six female-led shows that you should have on your radar over the coming few months.


Manchester Opera House, 10 September to 12 October, then Shaftesbury Theatre in the West End

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. We've heard some of the tunes in rehearsals and they really are the bees knees.

Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of)
© Mihaela Bodlovic

Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of)

UK tour opening in Bristol on 7 September

Based on Jane Austen's novel but with more microphones, pop tunes and karaoke, this anarchic rejigging of 19th century romance really is one to check out. It'll be visiting Northern Stage, Birmingham Rep, Edinburgh Lyceum, Leeds Playhouse and Nuffield Southampton Theatres after its opening at Bristol Old Vic.



UK tour opening in Perth on 5 September

Another show putting women front and centre of stories where they're usually forgotten is Rona Munro's new adaptation of Frankenstein, which has author Mary Shelley as its protagonist and kicks off its UK tour in September. Shelley was a pretty epic person – she started writing the novel at the age of 18, in spite of everyone around her basically dismissing her talent. Thankfully the work stood the test of time.

Six on stage
© Idil Sukan


In the West End and on tour from 24 October

Not content with ruling the West End, the smash-hit story of the six wives of Henry VIII is about to embark on a massive UK tour, which opens in Guildford in October and runs well into 2020. So with the news that the show has now landed a Broadway transfer, here's your chance to really see the Queens in action.

Preeya Kalidas and Shiloh Coke
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage


31 August to 5 October

The Bush Theatre's new artistic director Lynette Linton is firing on all cylinders with her first production at the west London venue, a revival of Jackie Kay's 1986 Chiarascuro. Featuring gig theatre vibes and a powerhouse cast, this is an exciting indicator of what to expect from Linton's coming season.



Donmar Warehouse, 11 October to 30 November

Co-produced with awesome theatre company Clean Break, the Donmar's premiere of Alice Birch's brand new play [BLANK], directed by Little Shop's Maria Aberg, explores what happens when a woman is sent to prison. There are few places where you can find writing as strong as at the Donmar and Birch is a striking voice, so this is really worth a watch.

Honorable mentions

There are, of course, more than just six shows that we could have mentioned – the ongoing tour of the brilliant Malory Towers is lighting up UK stages, while Cora Bissett's What Girls Are Made Of has a well-earned transfer to the Soho Theatre after smashing it at successive Edinburgh Fringes.

The Lovely Bones is back out on tour again, while Laura Wade's The Watsons comes to London following its brilliant premiere in Chichester. Caryl Churchill will make an eagerly-anticipated return with not one but four new pieces at the Royal Court.

In Leeds, Charley Miles will open the new Playhouse theatre with an all-female drama based on the Yorkshire Ripper killings called There Are No Beginnings, while in Manchester Lucy Ellinson will lead a gender flipped Macbeth.

Oh and a little-known play called Fleabag is apparently in the West End, we've heard.