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 spectacular, curtain raising productions to enjoy from 2019 and beyond.
Mary Poppins returns to its original West End home at the Prince Edward Theatre with Zizi Strallen in the title role. Based on the stories of P L Travers and the original Walt Disney film, dazzling choreography and catchy songs combine as the renowned nanny arrives on Cherry Tree Lane. Expect the classic songs Step in Time and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, as well as an array of new music in Cameron Mackintosh’s adaptation of this renowned West End hit.
When? 23 October 2019 – 29 March 2020
Dear Evan Hansen
Diving into life and the way we live it, award-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen came to the Noel Coward Theatre in late October 2019. 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.
When? 29 October 2019 – 4 April 2020
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.
When? From 2 November 2019
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 with Richard Armitage supporting as Astrov.
When? 14 January 2020 – 2 May 2020
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.
When? 25 January 2020 – 16 May 2020
Daniel Radcliffe and Alan Cumming star in a revival of Samuel Beckett’s macabre comedy Endgame at the Old Vic Theatre, running from 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.
When? 27 January 2020 – 28 March 2020
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 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.
When? 5 February 2020 – 12 September 2020
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.
When? 7 February 2020 – 25 April 2020
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, the story follows social outcast Jeremy who takes a special pill to become more popular.
When? 12 February 2020 – 3 May 2020
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, the show promises to deliver a huge-hearted take on John Waters’ classic 1988 film.
When? 23 April 2020 – 19 July 2020
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 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.
When? 20 April 2020 – 11 July 2020
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!
When? 20 February 2020 – 17 May 2020 (London dates TBC)
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 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.
When? 18 April 2020 – 16 May 2020
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 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.
When? 14 February 2020 – 2 January 2021
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.
When? 11 June 2020 – 5 September 2020
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, with music and songs from British songwriter and Dire Straits’ lead Mark Knopfler.
When? 18 June 2020 – 22 August 2020
Life of Pi
Take to the high seas at Wyndham Theatre in the heart of London, 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.
When? 24 June – 4 October 2020
Cush Jumbo rejoins director Greg Hersov to reimagine Shakespeare’s Hamlet for a new generation at the Young Vic. 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.
When? 6 July 2020 – 20 August 2020
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. 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.
When? Dates to be confirmed
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. Following the story of Jimmy Rabbitte and his efforts to turn a mismatched group of amateur musicians into an incredible band, this musical sensation is set to appear at venues all over Britain.
When? From 2 October 2020 – 3 July 2021
Venues: Bromley, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Peterborough, York, Llandudno, Nottingham, Bournemouth, Milton Keynes, Bradford, Glasgow, Blackpool, Northampton, Cardiff, Truro, Southend, Southampton, Bristol, Dartford, Norwich, Ipswich, Birmingham, Hull, Newcastle, Leeds, Cork, Dublin, Belfast, Reading, Liverpool, Aylesbury, Portsmouth, Manchester, Darlington, Wolverhampton, Wimbledon, Plymouth.
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 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.
When? 24 July 2020 – 30 August 2020
Categorised in: New for 2021
This post was written by Jay Daniels