London is renowned for its theatrical shows, with breathtaking dramas, magical musicals and returning classics transforming Theatreland into the place to be each year. The capital’s theatres are preparing to welcome some of world’s biggest stars in 2020, alongside renowned singing acts and the best directors in the business. As those stars prepare to take to the stage, discover the most exciting theatre to book in 2020, as well as a handful of must-see productions to enjoy from 2019 and beyond.
Mary Poppins returned to its original West End home at the Prince Edward Theatre with Zizi Strallen in the title role from late October 2019. Based on the stories of PL Travers and the original Walt Disney film, dazzling choreography and catchy songs combine as the renowned nanny arrives on Cherry Tree Lane. You can sing along to classic songs including Step in Time and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, as well as an array of new music in Cameron Mackintosh’s adaptation of this renowned West End hit.
Dear Evan Hansen
Diving into life and the way we live it, award-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen arrived at the Noel Coward Theatre in late October. A huge hit on Broadway – the winner of six 2017 Tony Awards and the 2018 Grammy Award – this modern and deeply personal tale follows West End debutant Sam Tutty as Evan Hansen and his quest to fit in.
Portraying life at the turn of the 20th century, Toby Jones stars as Uncle Vanya in Olivier Award-winner Conor McPherson’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s treasured work. Packed with thwarted desire and cynical comedy, the show returns to the West End’s Harold Pinter Theatre from mid-January with Richard Armitage supporting as Astrov.
Inspired by the Shakespeare classic, & Juliet imagines what would have happened if Juliet had survived, in this tale of an independent young woman seeking to prove there’s life after Romeo. Starring Miriam Teak-Lee in the title role, the show features a toe-tapping soundtrack from Max Martin, the acclaimed songwriter behind some of the biggest pop anthems of the last 30 years! Get set for a glorious blast of fun and pop music, as a host of acclaimed West End stars descend on the Shaftsbury Theatre from early November.
Playwright Tom Stoppard brings the world premiere of Leopoldstadt to the West End in late January, in this devastating tale of Jewish life in Europe in the early 20th century. Directed by Patrick Marber, the passionate drama of love, family, endurance and loss at the Wyndham Theatre is set in the Old Jewish quarter in Vienna and is renowned as one of Stoppard’s most compassionate works.
Daniel Radcliffe and Alan Cumming star in a revival of Samuel Beckett’s macabre comedy Endgame at the Old Vic Theatre, returning in late January. Richard Jones directs this chilling tale where hope and cruelty are the last things to die. Endgame will appear as part of a double bill alongside Beckett’s rarely seen short play, Rough for Theatre II.
David Mitchell makes his West End debut in February, as William Shakespeare, in a stage adaptation of his hilarious TV sitcom Upstart Crow. Written by Ben Elton, the play sees the Bard in need of a hit to satisfy King and country, but will his personal life prevent him from fulfilling his potential? Game of Thrones star Gemma Whelan joins Mitchell for this showpiece at the Gielgud Theatre.
The Prince of Egypt
Taking inspiration from the hit DreamWorks Animation film of the same name, The Prince of Egypt musical premieres in the West End at the Dominion Theatre in February 2020. Embark on a journey through Ancient Egypt as Moses and his Pharaoh brother Ramses find themselves divided by the past and facing situations that will change history forever. Luke Brady and Liam Tamne star in this celebration of human spirit, accompanied by a breathtaking soundtrack by Stephen Schwartz that includes ten new hits alongside five acclaimed songs from the 1998 animation.
Be More Chill
Having exploded onto Broadway in early 2019, Joe Tracz’s musical adaptation of Be More Chill arrives for its UK premiere at The Other Palace from mid-February. Inspired by the novel by Ned Vizzini and packed with catchy lyrics to accompany its Tony-Award®-nominated score, watch on as social outcast Jeremy takes a special pill to become more popular.
Pretty Woman: The Musical
Following a hugely successful run on Broadway, one of cinema’s classic love stories is transferring to the West End in February 2020. With choreography and direction from Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell and an original score from Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, Pretty Woman: The Musical is set to dazzle at the Piccadilly Theatre from Valentine’s Day. Expect the much-loved iconic moments from the 1990 hit movie of the same name, with glorious theatrical twists.
Sophocles’ Antigone: The Burial at Thebes
Discover Seamus Heaney’s daring translation of Sophocles’ Antigone: The Burial at Thebes at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre from mid-April, directed by the acclaimed Roy Alexander Weise. As war comes to a close, Antigone discovers her brothers have killed each other in combat, after being forced onto warring sides. When the King grants burial honours to one, but not the other, she and her sister must decide where their loyalties lie in a tale of humanity, leadership and defending beliefs.
Back to the Future: The Musical
Get set for the world premiere of Back to the Future - The Musical, arriving at the Manchester Opera House in February before transferring to London later in the year. Set off on an electrifying ride through time as the 1985 movie classic gets a makeover from Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis, the duo behind the original. With an all-new score to accompany the movie’s iconic hits, get ready for an exhilarating ride back to the future!
After a successful spell at the Almeida Theatre in North London, Robert Icke’s intense production of The Doctor transfers to the Duke of York’s Theatre from late April. As a young girl inches closer to death in hospital and her family send a priest to deliver the last rites, Juliet Stevenson stars as the doctor with a huge moral dilemma to overcome. Based on Professor Bernhardi, a 1912 play from Austrian writer Arthur Schnitzler, The Doctor provides an intriguing look into what happens when society takes sides.
Musical theatre star Michael Ball will return as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray the Musical, the story of Tracy Turnblad, the girl who will stop at nothing to dance her way on to TV’s most popular show. Having won an Olivier Award for the role, Ball’s acting talents will be complemented by choreography from Jerry Mitchell and direction by Jack O’Brien. Running for 12 weeks only at the London Coliseum from late April, the show promises to deliver a huge-hearted take on John Waters’ classic 1988 film.
Sunday in the Park with George
Academy Award nominee Jake Gyllenhaal takes centre stage alongside Annaleigh Ashford in the Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine masterpiece Sunday In the Park with George. As painter George Seurat looks to complete his most famous work, he neglects fellow artists, the French middle classes and his lover with little consideration for the consequences. Catch this musical about the art of making art at the Savoy Theatre from mid-June.
As a Texan oil executive attempts to replace a small Scottish seaside village with a refinery, the situation is more complicated than it seems. It might be the deal of a lifetime, but putting a price on the land is tricky business as the locals are forced to decide the value of their home. Directed by John Crowley, Local Hero transfers to the Old Vic from the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh in mid-June, with music and songs from British songwriter and Dire Straits’ lead Mark Knopfler.
Life of Pi
Take to the high seas at Wyndham Theatre in the heart of London from the end of June, with a ticket to the spectacular Life of Pi. Based on the Booker Prize-winning novel by Yann Martel, directed by Max Webster and adapted for the stage by Lolita Chakrabarti, the play traces the extraordinary journey of Pi as he ventures across the Pacific Ocean in the company of a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan and a Bengal tiger. Having opened at the Sheffield Crucible to rave reviews, this promises to be an unforgettable testament to the human spirit against all odds.
Cush Jumbo rejoins director Greg Hersov to reimagine Shakespeare’s Hamlet for a new generation at the Young Vic from early July. The pair have completed a succession of award-winning productions together and now the tragedy about authority, family and passion is set for a contemporary overhaul.
Singin’ in the Rain
Making a splash with high-energy choreography, epic set designs and plenty of water, Adam Cooper will reprise his role as Don Lockwood in Jonathan Church’s lauded production of Singin’ in the Rain. Making a return to the West End in late July after eight years away, the show will see more than 14,000 litres of water splashed on the Sadler’s Wells stage every night, bringing this feel-good production of the classic Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film starring Gene Kelly to life. If you’re in the front rows, prepare to get wet!
The Commitments - UK and Ireland tour
After five successful years in London’s West End, The Commitments embarks on a UK-wide tour from September 2020. Author Roddy Doyle has adapted his own novel for the stage to create a celebration of soul music that is riddled with humour and more than 20 live hits, cleverly directed by Caroline Jay Ranger. Follow the story of Jimmy Rabbitte and his efforts to turn a mismatched group of amateur musicians into an incredible band, at this musical sensation that is set to appear at venues all over Britain.
Frozen The Musical
Packed with songs from the original film and with a new score from Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, the award-winning creators of Let It Go, Frozen the Musical is set to bewitch theatre goers in London’s West End from autumn 2020. Escape to the enchanting landscapes of Arendelle at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, as the uplifting story of love and sisterhood is retold for the stage.