Theatre roundup: Autumn 2023

All the biggest and best new plays, musicals and West End shows opening this season

With the weather supposedly cooling (all proof of that is yet to be seen…), we’re getting ready for all the new autumn theatre set to arrive in the next season in the West End.

There are celebrated new plays such as Penelope Skinner’s Lyonesse and James Graham’s Dear England, as well as brand-new musicals telling the stories of writer Henry Fraser and supermodel Twiggy. We’re also welcoming back favourites The Ocean At The End Of The Lane and My Neighbour Totoro, which means there’s no excuse not to catch them this time around.

Button up your coat: here’s our roundup of everything to look forward to in the West End this autumn.

Dr Semmelweis

Mark Rylance as Dr Semmelweis

When: Until 7 Oct

Where: The Harold Pinter Theatre

Mark Rylance takes to the stage at the Harold Pinter Theatre as Hungarian doctor Ignaz Semmelweis, the man who discovered a silent killer amongst childbearing women and had to fight to make his case to the medical world. Powerful institutions ignoring doctors? Thank goodness that never happens in this day and age.

The Little Big Things

Rehearsals backstage for The Little Big Things

When: Until 25 Nov

Where: @sohoplace

This new arrival at the West End’s youngest theatre promises to be the new British musical we’ve all been waiting for. After a life-changing diving accident, Henry Fraser must reassess what gives his life meaning, and try to imagine a new future for himself. Based on the best-selling memoir, this one’s going to have a soundtrack you won’t be able to get out of your head.

Read our interview with the show’s writer, Nick Butcher, here.

Private Lives

When: Until 25 Nov

Where: Ambassadors Theatre

Picking Nöel Coward’s best play is a tall order, but Private Lives is a pretty safe choice. Ex-spouses Elyot and Amanda (played by Nigel Havers and Patricia Hodge respectively) are honeymooning with their new partners only to find themselves lodged in adjacent hotel rooms. Is this an opportunity for a rekindling, or are they doomed to repeat their mistakes?


When: 12 Sept – 28 Oct

Where: The Old Vic

If you couldn’t get enough of Barlett Sher’s luscious My Fair Lady revival last summer, then here’s an opportunity to revisit the original story. Street vendor Eliza Doolittle feels her luck about to turn when she meets the wealthy Professor Henry Higgins, who is set on transforming her into a well-bred lady of London society. George Bernard Shaw’s biting satire remains as funny and poignant as ever.

Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends

When: 18 Sept – 6 Jan

Where: Gielgud Theatre

Bernadette Peters and Lea Salonga lead a star-studded cast in this joyous celebration of Sondheim’s life and work. The sell-out musical theatre event returns for an evening of music and reminiscences, helmed by Cameron Mackintosh and stacked with the best of the West End and Broadway.

Close-Up: The Twiggy Musical

When: 18 Sept – 18 Nov

Where: Menier Chocolate Factory

We Will Rock You made a big return to the West End this summer, and now Ben Elton has turned his attention to a new project about Britain’s original supermodel. Close-Up: The Twiggy Musical chronicles Lesley Lawson’s fairytale rise from London teenager to the face of an era, all set to the music of the period and doused in Elton’s trademark humour.

Sunset Boulevard

When: 21 Sept – 6 Jan

Where: Savoy Theatre

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic is back on the West End, featuring Nicole Scherzinger as frustrated film star Nora Desmond. When young screenwriter Joe Gillis comes into her life, Norma sees her opportunity to return to the world as cinema. Thus begins their tangled, magnetic association – one that will have ultimately tragic consequences.


When: 30 Sept – 17 Feb

Where: Garrick Theatre

If you haven’t yet picked up a copy of Maggie O’Farrell’s wonderful novel, consider this your opportunity to do just that, before Hamnet hits the stage at the end of the month. This is Shakespeare’s story like you’ve never seen it before – because it’s actually Agnes Hathaway’s.

The Time Traveller’s Wife

When: 7 Oct – 30 Mar

Where: Apollo Theatre

The science fiction romance comes to new life at the Apollo Theatre this October, featuring a wholly original score from Grammy Award winners Joss Stone and Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart. There’s a tonne of big names behind this one, notably Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’s Chris Fisher, who’ll be conjuring up some magical illusions.

Dear England

When: 9 Oct – 13 Jan

Where: Prince Edward Theatre

Following a sold-out run at the National Theatre, James Graham’s hugely successful new play arrives in the West End, featuring Joseph Fiennes as English football manager Gareth Southgate. It’s racked up a huge number of five-star reviews so far – imagine the reception if we’d actually ever won anything…  

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

When: 11 Oct – 25 Nov

Where: Nöel Coward Theatre

If you missed it the first time around, you’re in luck. Neil Gaiman’s epic story returns to the West End this October for a seven-week run, promising magic, mystery and one hell of an adventure. Just make sure to set your reminders this time – The Ocean At The End Of The Lane has garnered over 60 five-star reviews so far.


When: 17 Oct – 23 Dec

Where: The Harold Pinter Theatre

Kristin Scott Thomas and Lily James star in this new offering from Penelope Skinner, which promises humour, intrigue and heart along with its A-list cast. After reclusive actress Elaine (Thomas) disappears in mysterious circumstances, it takes her 30 years before she finally feels ready to tell her story, with the aid of young film executive Kate (James).

My Neighbour Totoro

When: 21 Nov – 23 Mar

Where: Barbican Theatre

One of the West End’s most magical shows returns to the Barbican this November, offering audiences another glimpse into the world of Satsuki and Mei. Based on the Studio Ghibli film, My Neighbour Totoro was touted as an unmissable theatrical event during its first run – so make sure you don’t miss it.

Read our interview with My Neighbour Totoro playwright Tom Morton-Smith here.