Britain is always a hot-bed of theatrical drama, magical musicals and returning classics, and 2019 is no different. Both in London and across the UK, theatres are preparing to welcome some of the world’s biggest stars, the best directors and renowned singing acts as they prepare to break a leg and take to the stage. Discover the theatre to book in 2019.
Opening in May, the Olivier Theatre in London’s National Theatre will welcome an adaptation of Andrea Levy’s award-winning novel Small Island by Helen Edmundson. Focusing on the history of Jamaica and Britain and set at the time when the Empire Windrush docked in the UK, the show follows the connected stories of Hortense, new to London from Jamaica, landlady Queenie and two servicemen, Bernard and Gilbert.
October means the European premiere of Annie Baker’s The Antipodes at the Dorfman Theatre, another of the National Theatre spaces. Following a period at the Signature Theatre in New York, the play about stories and the people that tell them is directed by Lila Neugebauer.
Having premiered in London in 1982, Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls will return in 2019 to the National Theatre’s Lyttelton space. Following Marlene, the first woman to head the Top Girls employment agency, the play is an innovative look at a country that is divided by its ambitions – the first showing is in late March.
9 to 5 The Musical
Enjoy a hilarious tale of friendship, gossip and revenge, as well as Dolly Parton’s biggest hits in 9 to 5 the Musical, which premiers in the West End’s Savoy Theatre in late January, before concluding at the end of August. Telling the story of how to survive in an office environment, expect all of the classic songs, including the title track 9 to 5, Always a Woman and Around Here, as well as many more.
All About Eve
Discover Ivo van Hove’s new adaptation of All About Eve at London’s Noel Coward Theatre, starring Gillian Anderson and Lily James. Uncover a world of jealousy and ambition, and question why people are fascinated with celebrities, youth and identity when the show premiers in the West End in February 2019.
Come From Away
Having sold out on Broadway, Come From Away comes to the UK in 2019 to tell the remarkable true story of how a small town in Newfoundland housed 7,000 stranded air passengers in the wake of 9/11 in 2001. Highlighting the capacity for human kindness in difficult times and the triumph of humanity over hate, the show gets underway at London’s Phoenix Theatre in late January.
Taking inspiration from Adrienne Shelly’s hit film, The Waitress is the story of Jenna, a waitress and skilled pie-maker on the hunt of a new life beyond the confines of her small town and loveless marriage. Katharine McPhee will star as Jenna during the limited run from February to May at the Adelphi Theatre on the Strand.
Long-running shows Lion King The Musical, The Book of Mormon, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Mamma Mia!, Les Miserables and Thriller-Live will all continue to grab the imagination in 2019 too.
Across the UK
Matthew Bourne’s re-imagined take on Tchaikovsky’s classic Swan Lake completes its tour of Britain in the first half of 2019, with shows all over the country. Famed for its male ballet ensemble, it’s an exciting modern look at a renowned classic production. Alongside shows at Sadler’s Wells in London, the tour will visit Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Southampton, Glasgow, Bristol, Canterbury, Norwich, Liverpool, Wimbledon, Hull, Woking, Newcastle and Sheffield.
Following a successful stint on London’s West End, the heart-warming story of young orphan Annie will visit 16 cities across the UK between early February and the beginning of July. Expect all of the hit songs, including It’s the Hard Knock Life and Tomorrow, and keep your eyes peeled for Anita Dobson and Craig Revel Horwood, who are both set for spells as tyrannical orphanage owner Miss Hannigan in Michael Harrison and David Ian’s hit production.
X-factor winner Alexandra Burke leads the cast in The Bodyguard, a musical based on Lawrence Kasdan’s 1992 movie starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. Having successfully conquered London’s West End, the romantic thriller follows bodyguard Frank Farmer and superstar Rachel Marron and is directed by award-wining Thea Sharrock. Having opened in Glasgow in late 2018, the hit musical will travel across the UK in 2019 before culminating with Manchester shows in early January 2020. Note that Carole Stennett will step into the lead role for certain shows.
Measure for Measure
Despite being written in the early 1600s, Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure still resonates strongly to this day. Gregory Doran directs the story of a young nun, compromised by a corrupt official and unsure of her options. Starting in late June, shows will take place at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon until the end of August.
In The Willows
Discover a fresh new take on Kenneth Grahame’s classic as The Wind in the Willows is transformed into a thrilling hip hop musical. Director Poppy Burton-Morgan has joined forces with award-winning composer Pippa Cleary and pioneering hip-hop composer Kieran Merrick for In The Willows, which will tour the UK from mid-February to the start of June. Expect killer beats and epic tunes as deaf street dancer Chris Fonseca stars as Otter.
A vibrant revival of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance is set to open in 2019, although dates are yet to be confirmed. Pirates!, directed by Daryl Gray, will feature new arrangements and orchestrations from Grammy Award winner Steve Sidwell, some 140 years after the original was first performed.
We Will Rock You
The smash hit Queen and Ben Elton musical We Will Rock You returns in 2019 for a UK and Ireland tour, having toured internationally since leaving the West End in 2014. Offering a combination of Elton’s futuristic comedy writing paired with 24 of Queen’s biggest hits, it follows the epic Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which opened at number one in the box office in more than 30 countries. The nine-month tour of the UK gets underway in September.
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