Rounding up the most exciting new writing hitting London theatres over the next season
We love our West End classics as much as the next person – and if you’ve just bought tickets to Wicked for the fifth time, there’s no judgement here. (It’s been more than five? Still not judging.) But London theatre is about so much more than the shows everyone knows. Our West End theatres are lucky enough to host some of the most exciting new musicals around. Some are passing through on tour and some will be sticking around for a while, but either way there’s never a better time to catch something original before it becomes a classic. Don’t you want to feel as smug as your friend who saw Hamilton before everyone else?
When: Until 9 Sept
Where: Barbican Theatre
Not that we ever need an excuse to visit the beautiful Barbican Theatre, but a Pulitzer Prize winner is as good as any. A Strange Loop is the confronting, sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking story of a young gay black artist writing a musical about a young gay black artist writing a musical about a young gay black artist… This one’s bound to be an award winner on this side of the Atlantic as well, so don’t miss your chance to catch its limited run.
When: 2 Sept – 25 Nov
The baby of West End theatres isn’t even a year old yet, but what a start it’s had. First came Marvellous, the life-affirming story of Neil Baldwin, and then Jonathan Butterell’s excellent Brokeback Mountain. This September, @sohoplace opens its doors to The Little Big Things, a stunning new musical based on the memoir of sportsman and writer Henry Fraser and directed by Olivier winner Luke Sheppard. You won’t see anything like this elsewhere on the West End.
When: Until 26 Aug
Where: Phoenix Theatre
Even the newest of new musicals don’t refresh themselves constantly to remain topical. But that’s exactly what Idiots Assemble promises, as the puppets of Spitting Image take to the stage to deliver a raucous satirical comedy about the state of the nation. Expect a ton of familiar faces, including Tom Cruise, Greta Thunberg, Meghan Markle and Donald Trump. What other West End show boasts a cast like that?
When: Until 27 Aug
Where: Queen Elizabeth Hall
With twelve Tony nods and a bunch of Broadway’s other main awards under its belt, The Spongebob Musical has sailed into the West End. The colourful, larger than life adaptation of the popular cartoon is already dazzling audiences and critics, with praise heaped upon the show’s design and its impressive original score. It’s rare to see a non-jukebox musical with this many big names attached: Cindy Lauper, John Legend, The Flaming Lips and Panic! At The Disco to name just a handful.
When: Booking now
Where: Shaftesbury Theatre
The next film to get the musical theatre treatment, Mrs Doubtfire is the latest in London theatre’s line of feel-good nights out. Robin Williams’ beloved character lives again, as out of work actor and doting father Daniel goes to new extremes in order to spend time with his estranged children. A completely original score makes this family comedy even more unmissable.
When: 18 Sept – 18 Nov
Where: Menier Chocolate Factory
Following the triumphant return of We Will Rock You to London, writer Ben Elton has turned his attention to a brand new musical theatre project: the life of model Lesley Lawson, better known by her nickname, Twiggy. Close-Up charts Twiggy’s fairytale rise from London teenager to face of the 60s, set to the songs of the era. The show gets its world premiere at the Menier Chocolate Factory this September. Miniskirts optional.
When: From 25 Oct
Where: Apollo Theatre
This is set to be an epic theatrical romance, with songs from Grammy Award winners Joss Stone and Dave Stewart and illusions by Chris Fisher, the mind behind the stage magic of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. When sculptor Clare falls in love with time traveller Henry, she knows their relationship will be atypical – but nothing can prepare her for what their years together will bring. Tissues at the ready…
When: From 6 Mar
Where: Prince Edward Theatre
A jukebox musical set to the songs of Michael Jackson has been a long time coming. MJ The Musical takes audiences behind the scenes of the 1992 Dangerous world tour, inviting them into the performer’s process and all of the accompanying highs and lows. The show scooped up an impressive 10 Tony nods over on Broadway – the UK version is sure to be headed for similar success.