Our pick of recently opened and upcoming shows
London’s theatres had an incredible year in 2015, with new openings including the Tony Award winning productions Beautiful: The Carole King Musical and Kinky Boots. There was also Imelda
Staunton’s rousing performance as Mama Rose in Gypsy, Martin McDonagh’s brilliant new black comedy Hangmen, and the revival of David Mamet’s American Buffalo.
This year has got off to an equally exciting start and there’s more to come as a line-up of famous faces, new writing and juicy rumours come to fruition. Our lifestyle writer Erin Spurling takes a look at some of the most lauded recent openings as well as anticipated arrivals.
Mrs Henderson Presents
Noël Coward Theatre
Until 16 June
Based on the 2005 film starring Judi Dench, Terry Johnson’s stage production received outstanding reviews during its run at the Theatre Royal Bath. It charts the story of Laura Henderson, a widow who tasks herself with rejuvenating an old theatre and transforms it into a variety show venue, offering a refuge and a shining light during the darkness of the Blitz.
Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill
25 June – 3 September
We can’t wait for the chance to see six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald make her West End debut. In a role she has already perfected on Broadway, she will star as the protagonist in this moving story about the life and music of the legendary Billie Holiday.
11 July – 17 September
Based on the popular 1993 comedy starring Bill Murray, this musical adaptation will make its world premiere in London, thanks to the Old Vic’s artistic director Matthew Warchus. Following his huge success with Matilda the Musical, Australian comedian Tim Minchin has been appointed to write the music and lyrics, while Tony Award nominee Andy Karl will take the lead role.
Expected opening in November
After premiering on Broadway in 1981, this smash-hit musical has been a long time coming to the West End. Produced by Sonia Friedman, the soulful story about the rise of R&B acts in the 1960s and 1970s is directed by Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon and Aladdin) and will star Amber Riley of Glee fame.
Duke of York’s Theatre
9 April – 25 June
Known for his startlingly modern reinterpretations of classic plays, director Jamie Lloyd’s next production undertakes Christopher Marlowe’s dark tale of fame, excess and riches. Game of Thrones star Kit Harington will play the lead role in the adaptation that is sure to bring this 400-year-old work hurtling into the 21st century.
Romeo and Juliet
12 May – 13 August
Shakespeare’s tale of star-crossed lovers will be brought to life yet again, this time by co-stars Lily James and Richard Madden. After showing us their authentic on-screen chemistry in Kenneth
Branagh’s Cinderella last year, the pair have been reunited by the director and we are looking forward to seeing how their charisma translates into the title roles.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Opening 30 July
Full plot details have yet to be released for this eagerly awaited stage production but JK Rowling has confirmed that it will enlighten audiences about the story of the wizard’s murdered parents. Tickets sold at lightning speed when they went on sale last year, proving that Potter-mania is still going strong.
20 August – 12 November
Kenneth Branagh and John Hurt headline in the final production of Branagh’s season as director at the Garrick. Written by John Osborne, the play is set against the backdrop of a post-war Britain and tells the story of a failing, middle-aged music hall performer. It premiered in 1957 at the Royal Court starring Laurence Olivier.
Pictured: Audra McDonald and George Farmer in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill – photo credit Evgenia Eliseeva