Last year was a bumper year for London theatre, with the likes of The Inheritance and The Jungle winning rave reviews from critics and audiences alike. Thankfully a new year means there’s a whole host of new plays and musicals for us all to enjoy to get us through 2019. Here are a few shows I’m excited about seeing later this year.
When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other, National Theatre (16 January-2 March)
The new year gets off to a blazing start with Cate Blanchett’s return to the London stage in When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other. Originally scheduled to star in All About Eve, hearts were broken when Blanchett had to withdraw due to a diary conflict but thankfully the National Theatre came to the rescue. Directed by Katie Mitchell, Blanchett stars alongside Stephen Dillane in Martin Crimp’s play about sexual domination and resistance, set to be staged in the intimate Dorfman Theatre (hence why the much sought-after tickets were allocated via a popular ballot), and her National Theatre debut is guaranteed to brighten up a dull January.
Come from Away, Phoenix Theatre (30 January-25 May)
Following critical acclaim on Broadway, the heartwarming musical Come from Away flies in (ahem) to the Phoenix Theatre later this month. Written by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, the musical is based on a true story of the small Newfoundland town of Gander which opened its doors to more than 7,000 stranded people in the week following the 9/11 attacks when 38 planes were ordered to land there. With a strong cast led by Rachel Tucker and moving songs, this feel-good musical is perfect way to beat the January blues.
All About Eve, Noel Coward Theatre (2 February-11 May)
All About Eve sees Gillian Anderson returning to the London stage following her memorable portrayal of Blanche Dubois in the Young Vic adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire in 2014. She goes head to head with Lily James as rivals Margo Channing and Eve Harrington in the new production of the Joseph L. Mankiewicz Academy award-winning classic, All About Eve. Adapted for the stage by Ivo van Hove, who will hopefully be channelling his A View from the Bridge success, and featuring a strong cast including W1A’s Monica Dolan and a soundtrack by PJ Harvey, the play deals with the fascination with celebrity and obsession and is already one of the year’s hottest tickets.
Waitress, Adelphi Theatre (8 February-25 May)
As a fan of both musicals and sweet-tasting food, Waitress is one of this year’s must-sees for me. This hit Broadway musical will be cooking up a treat at the Adelphi Theatre in February, thanks to a tasty (I’ll stop now) soundtrack courtesy of Sara Bareilles, an all-female lead creative team – the first for the West End! – and a leading cast. Former American Idol star Katharine McPhee reprises her Broadway role as Jenna, and is joined by Dreamgirls’ Marisha Wallace as Becky, Laura Baldwin as Becky, Kinky Boots’ David Hunter as Dr Pomatter and 30 Rock star Jack McBrayer as Ogie. A sweet and empowering musical, Waitress is sure to be one of the big hits of 2018.
Betrayal, Harold Pinter Theatre (5 March-1 June)
Commemorating the tenth anniversary of the death of the Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter, Jamie Lloyd’s Pinter at the Pinter season has been running since September and has featured a whole host of top theatre names, from Penelope Wilton and Celia Imrie to Michael Gambon and er…well Danny Dyer. The Pinter season ends in style later this year with the turn of Olivier and Golden Globe winner Tom Hiddleston, who returns to the West End following his performance in Coriolanius at the Donmar Warehouse. First performed in 1978, Betrayal charts a seven-year romance which unfolds in reverse chronological order and is considered to be one of Pinter’s most dramatic works. If that doesn’t take your fancy, Pinter 7: A Slight Ache/The Dumb Waiter, starring Danny Dyer, runs until February.
Emilia, Vaudeville Theatre (8 March-15 June)
I wasn’t lucky enough to catch Emilia during its brief albeit very successful stint at the Globe Theatre, but I’m excited that it’s been given a new lease of life thanks to its West End transfer to the Vaudeville Theatre. A diverse all-female cast brings to life the story of Emilia Bassano, the 16th century poet said to be the muse of William Shakespeare and the Dark Lady of his sonnets. The play follows Emilia through her life and, although much is purely a work of fiction, it’s a powerful and passionate story highlighting the plight of exploited women throughout history.
Three Sisters, Almeida Theatre (8 April-1 June)
Hot on the heels of the smash hit production of Tennessee Williams’ Summer and Smoke, which took both the Almeida Theatre and West End by storm in 2018, the Almeida’s artistic director Rebecca Frecknell and the acting powerhouse Patsy Ferran team up once again, this time for Chekhov’s Three Sisters. Adapted by Cordelia Lynn, the play will be split between the original setting of Moscow in 1901 and modern-day London, and with the cast including both Ferran and Ink’s Pearl Chandra, it’s sure to be a memorable take on one of Chekhov’s best-known plays.
All My Sons, Old Vic (15 April-8 June)
The Old Vic has made my childhood dreams come true with the epic casting of acting greats and 80s legends Sally Field and Bill Pullman – Mrs Doubtfire meets Independence Day (if only!) Hot on the heels of The American Clock, the theatre continues its run of Arthur Miller plays with All My Sons, the story of a devastated family in 1947 who are grieving for their son, killed in the war. Jenna Coleman and Colin Morgan join the pair in this tragic tale of love, loss and betrayal; a moving play which will no doubt tug at the heart strings.
Priscilla Queen of the Desert New Wimbledon Theatre/UK and Ireland
(5 September-4 January 2020)
This year sees the return of a number of hit musicals, including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Mary Poppins and this, Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Based on the 1994 Oscar-winning film starring Terence Stamp and Guy Pearce, this outrageously funny and heartwarming musical features a dazzling array of costumes, shoes, campness and the cheesiest (aka best) soundtrack you could imagine, including disco classics ‘I Will Survive’, ‘It’s Raining Men’ and ‘I Love the Nightlife’. If the original UK production at London’s Palace Theatre was anything to go by, audiences are in for a night they’ll never forget!
We Will Rock You, Ipswich Regent/UK and Ireland (September 2019-May 2020)
After 12 years of wowing the crowds at London’s Dominion Theatre, Queen and Ben Elton’s epic rock musical We Will Rock You returns for another tour of UK and Ireland in 2019/2020. This reimagined musical, which has been seen by over 15 million theatregoers since it’s opening on 2002 (including myself many, many times thanks to my student loan), features the rock quartet’s classic songs, including the epic anthem Bohemian Rhapsody. Though it may not have been a hit with the critics, this musical about a future world where rock music is banned is witty, fun and features an iconic soundtrack, and I for one can’t wait to see it again at the Regent Theatre later this year.