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Musicals and theatre in London

Your one stop guide to plays and musicals in the West End and the best of London shows. Theatre reviews, tickets and offers

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Alexander Zeldin: ‘I need to feel like this could be a disaster’
Theatre

Alexander Zeldin: ‘I need to feel like this could be a disaster’

Chronicler of the age of austerity director Zeldin has gone from fringe obscurity to National Theatre rising star

Ikea is launching an immersive theatre experience in Soho
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Ikea is launching an immersive theatre experience in Soho

Some might argue that a visit to Ikea is the original immersive theatre experience…

Latest theatre reviews
Theatre

Latest theatre reviews

Find out what our theatre team made of London's new openings

19 best new theatre shows of 2019
Theatre

19 best new theatre shows of 2019

It's 2019 and here are the theatre shows you shoudl be seeing in 2019

Cheap and last minute theatre tickets in London
Theatre

Cheap and last minute theatre tickets in London

London's best theatre discounts and how to get in to sold out shows

Latest theatre reviews

‘The King of Hell’s Palace’ review

‘The King of Hell’s Palace’ review

In 1992, Dr Shuping Wang and her colleagues reported a hepatitis epidemic in the People’s Republic of China, discovered through batches of contaminated blood given by donors looking to make money through selling their plasma…

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
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‘Fame the Musical’ review
Theatre

‘Fame the Musical’ review

Almost 40 years since the original film, 37 since the TV show, and 31 since the theatrical version was first staged, it increasingly looks like ‘Fame’ really might live forever…

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
‘A Doll’s House’ review

‘A Doll’s House’ review

Rachel O’Riordan’s maiden season at the Lyric opens with a big, bold, postcolonial take on ‘A Doll’s House’ from Tanika Gupta…

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
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‘Preludes’ review

‘Preludes’ review

American writer and lyricist David Malloy’s ‘Preludes’ isn’t straightforwardly about a man who makes music. It manages to burrow inside his music and inside his head…

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
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Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp.
Theatre

Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp.

Britain’s greatest living playwright Caryl Churchill is back at her usual haunt the Royal Court with four short plays…

Ian McKellen On Stage

Ian McKellen On Stage

Unstoppable stage and screen legend Sir Ian McKellen celebrates his eightieth birthday with an 80-date stand in the West End with this celebration of his life and work.

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Lungs

Lungs

Duncan Macmillan’s brilliant linguistically experimental two-hander about a couple freaking out gets its first major revival, starring Claire Foy and Matt Smith in rather different roles to those fans of ‘The Crown’ will be used to.

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Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hansen

It feels like 2019 is the year every single hit Broadway musical of the last three years descends upon London…

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& Juliet

& Juliet

Superstar Swedish songwriter Max Martin has probably done more to shape the contemporary pop landscape than any human being alive…

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Theatre tickets and offers

Exclusive tickets to ‘Ghost Quartet’ at the new Boulevard Theatre

Exclusive tickets to ‘Ghost Quartet’ at the new Boulevard Theatre

Don’t miss this critically-acclaimed musical at Soho’s latest theatre

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49% off ‘Big The Musical’ at Dominion Theatre

49% off ‘Big The Musical’ at Dominion Theatre

Expect big fun at this heart-warming stage adaptation

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Tickets from £15 to see ‘Heartbeat of Home’ at Piccadilly Theatre

Tickets from £15 to see ‘Heartbeat of Home’ at Piccadilly Theatre

A vibrant dance show from the makers of ‘Riverdance’

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Up to 64% off ‘A Doll’s House’ at Lyric Hammersmith

Up to 64% off ‘A Doll’s House’ at Lyric Hammersmith

Tanika Gupta reimagines Ibsen’s masterpiece

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More Exclusive London Theatre Offers

More Exclusive London Theatre Offers

Discounts, exclusive access and special offers to some of Lonson's top theatre shows

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More great theatre tickets

Ian McKellen On Stage

Ian McKellen On Stage

Unstoppable stage and screen legend Sir Ian McKellen has spent the best part of 2019 touring an autobiographical stage show – formerly called ‘Tolkien, Shakespeare, others …and you!’, now subtitled that – to 80 venues across the nation, each of which meant something special to him. Naturally even the slew of London dates sold out pretty much immediately: but now he’s bringing it back to to the capital for a proper West End run, with all money going to theatre charities. The show – directed by Sean Mathias – is effectively McKellen’s greatest hits, in which he talks about his life, answers questions and performed bits of his most famous roles, notably Gandalf and the Bard.  

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‘9 to 5 the Musical’ review

‘9 to 5 the Musical’ review

Backwoods Barbie, rhinestone queen and all-round country music legend Dolly Parton has her glittering fingerprints all over this musical. She’s written all the songs, bar the iconic title track, especially for the show (this definitely isn’t a jukebox affair). She’s basically in it, as thinly disguised poodle-coiffed doppelgänger Doralee. And in case this escaped you, Parton pops up in video footage to introduce this whole bonkers confection to an audience of mad-keen fans. ‘9 to 5’ is a musical theatre version of the 1980 movie of the same name, which involves Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda running round an office and outwitting their dastardly male boss. And although this show started out in LA in 2005, it feels (shudder) pretty post-Weinstein, with its uncompromising focus on male shitness and violent retribution. Doralee (Natalie McQueen) can’t so much as climb a stepladder without her sleazy boss theatrically ogling her – and climbing any kind of career ladder is out of the question. Meanwhile Judy (Amber Davies, of ‘Love Island’ fame) is struggling to get to grips with some delightfully ’80s office tech, including a malevolent photocopier that attacks her with sheets of paper. And Violet – played by Caroline Sheen, subbing in for an injured Louise Redknapp who returns to the role next month – is a natural leader who’s longing for the promotion she deserves. The plot, when it shows up, is about as ridiculous as these women’s ultra-glam interpretation of ‘office wea

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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‘Fiddler on the Roof’ review

‘Fiddler on the Roof’ review

The Playhouse Theatre is surprisingly good at hiding its Victorian gilt flourishes. It got turned into a flung-together Calais refugee camp for ‘The Jungle’ last year, and now it’s full of the scent of woodsmoke and the cramped rickety buildings of a Jewish shtetl. Transferring from the Menier Chocolate Factory, Trevor Nunn’s intense, dark-hued, mildly immersive production of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ is as close as this Broadway musical could ever get to gritty naturalism.The production’s muddy colour palette is the background for nostalgia and poignancy of every possible shade. It’s based on stories by Sholem Aleichem, who wrote about the precarious Yiddish-speaking communities of mid-nineteenth-century Russia just as they started to vanish. Andy Nyman makes wearily humorous work of the central role of Tevye, a dairyman who’s forever bellowing ‘Tradition!’ at his five daughters as they each concoct their own plans for their futures. His singing voice sometimes falters, but he more than makes up for it with knowing wit: he interrupts the famous opening to ‘If I Were A Rich Man’ for a leisurely scratch at his hairy forearm. But Nyman’s performance also has a real darkness, which complicates this story’s more nostalgic notes - it's especially evident in the unexpected violence of his reaction to his daughter Chava’s decision to marry a non-Jewish Russian man, even as their community is threatened by state violence. Judy Kuhn plays Tevye’s wife Golde with all the frustration of a w

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
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The Phantom of the Opera review

The Phantom of the Opera review

I’m not sure any show ‘deserves’ to be the most successful entertainment event of all time, but I’ll hand it current holder of that title, ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ – it still works hard for its audience. Sure, chunks of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s opus have never left 1986. But whereas describing a musical as ‘stuck in the ’80s’ is usually shorthand for cheap, thin synth orchestration, nothing could be further from the truth here: the portentously swirling keyboards and crunch of hair metal guitar that powers ‘Phantom’s title song have a black hole-like immensity, sucking you in with sheer juggernaut bombast. Mostly, though, ‘Phantom…’ remains strong because its high production values haven’t been allowed to sag. The late Maria Björnson’s design is a heady barrage of ravishing costumes and lavish sets that change frequently, working in everything from pastoral jollity to an ancient Carthaginian theme on the way to the Phantom’s stunning underground lair. It’s totally OTT – in one scene the Phantom zaps at his nemesis Raul with a staff that fires actual fireballs – and anybody who describes the plot (homicidal lunatic grooms girl) as romantic should probably be put on some sort of register. But its blazingly earnest ridiculousness and campy Grand Guignol story are entirely thrilling when realised with the show’s enormous budget. And while Hal Prince’s production may have been hailed as rather gauche back in the day, in 2013 it all comes across as rather more tasteful than the a

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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Les Misérables

Les Misérables

Well here’s an interesting question: is this production of ‘Les Misérables’ a continuation of the longest-running musical production of all time, following several months’ hiatus while its home the Queen’s Theatre underwent some much-needed maintainance work? Or it is effectively a new show?  It seems super-producer Cameron Mackintosh is pretty much trying to have his cake and eat it: to all intents and purposes this is a new production of the epic Victor Hugo adaptation, first directed by Laurence Connor as a touring incarnation of the show in 2009. It’s since been rolled out globally, with London the last place in the world that you could see Trevor Nunn’s original RSC production, which finally closed in July 2019, taking the iconic revolve with it. Connor’s version is informed by Nunn’s, but not Nunn’s; nobody seems entirely sure why Mackintosh felt the need to change it, not least Nunn, who has been vocally pissed off at the whole affair. But the artwork and the ’brand’ remain consistant, and it’s the same basic idea and musical arrangements; bemusing at the entire thing is, we won’t begrudge ‘Les Mis’ one more day – or indeed, another 35 years.

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The best theatre in London

London musicals
Theatre

London musicals

All the latest musicals, from the fringe to the West End.

West End theatre shows
Theatre

West End theatre shows

London's West End is teeming with plays and musicals, so how do you decide what to see? By using our handy guide

Children's theatre in London
Theatre

Children's theatre in London

Recommendations for the very little ones, the nearly big ones, and the grown ups

London theatre critics' choice
Theatre

London theatre critics' choice

These are the shows that got our critics talking

Discover more theatre in London

Shakespeare plays in London
Theatre

Shakespeare plays in London

Here's where to watch the best of the Bard in London

London musicals
Theatre

London musicals

Our comprehensive guide to all musicals in London's West End and beyond…

Immersive theatre in London
Theatre

Immersive theatre in London

London is bursting with plays and performances that defy stuffy conventions 

London theatre breaks
Theatre

London theatre breaks

Hotel and theatre combos that make life a whole lot easier

What's on at

Old Vic
Theatre

Old Vic

The combination of double-Oscar winner Kevin Spacey and top producer David Liddiment at this 200-year-old Waterloo theatre continues to be a commercial success – though Spacey's controversial artistic leadership has frequently come under critical fire. Still, the Old Vic's a great place to catch high-profile actors – Ian McKellen, Robert Lindsay and Neve Campbell have all trod its boards. David Mamet's 'Speed-the-Plow' thrilled audiences in 2008 and was followed by a winning revival of Alan Ayckbourn's 'The Norman Conquests' – a show that saw the venue spectacularly remodeled into a theatre-in-the-round. Summer 2009 heralded the first of Sam Mendes's The Bridge Projects, an Anglo-American collaboration between Mendes, the Old Vic and Joseph V Melillo's Brooklyn Academy of Music, that enticed Ethan Hawke to the British stage for its Shakespeare/Chekhov double bill.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
National Theatre

National Theatre

The concrete-clad, 1960s modernist grandmother of them all: no theatrical tour of London is complete without a visit to the National, whose three auditoriums – Olivier, Lyttelton and Cottesloe – offer a rolling repertory programme, often with a choice of several productions in a week. The National Theatre may have once had a fiercely inaccessible reputation, but the arrival of maverick artistic director Nicholas Hytner in 2003 rocked theatreland as he set about changing the venue's staid ethos with daring productions such as 'Jerry Springer the Opera' and an ambitious adaptation of Phillip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials'. The change of tack proved a success, attracting audiences of mixed race, age and class – and Hytner's budget £10 Travelex-sponsored tickets still help pull in the crowds in the summer season. The home stable for Michael Morpurgo's 'War Horse', which opened here in 2007 and went on to break West End records, the National is now developing a reputation for family-friendly blockbusters, cue its current production of Mark Haddon's 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time'. Meanwhile the National Theatre Live initiative has extended the theatre's reach by broadcasting high-publicity productions such as Danny Boyle's role-swapping smash-hit 'Frankenstein' and the comedy 'One Man, Two Guvnors', which introduced James Corden to the stage, live to Picturehouse Cinemas. A recent run of the post-modern musical 'London Road' proved it hasn't lost its edge. You

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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Young Vic

Young Vic

The Young Vic finally returned to its refurbished home in The Cut in 2007 with acclaimed community show ‘Tobias & the Angel’. As you would expect, it’s got more verve and youthful nerve than the grown-up Old Vic down the road and attracts a slightly younger more multicultural – yet still discerning – crowd. Director David Lan’s eclectic programming of rediscovered European classics has proved popular with the critics, while a stage adaptation of DBC Pierre’s ‘Vernon God Little’ was standing ovation material. Three venue spaces – the main house and studio spaces Maria and Clare – allow for flexible scheduling and more intimate works such as Tarell Alvin McCraney’s moving ‘The Brothers Size’. The Young Vic also provides its Waterloo home with a popular split-level bar and restaurant complete with an open-air balcony terrace.

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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Royal Court Theatre

Royal Court Theatre

A hard-hitting theatre in well-heeled Sloane Square, the Royal Court has always placed emphasis on new British talent – from John Osborne’s ‘Look Back in Anger’ in 1956, to the discovery of numerous playwrights over the past decade: Sarah Kane, Joe Penhall and Conor McPherson among them. Artistic director Dominic Cooke has always injected plenty of politics into the programmes and successfully decreased the age of his audiences too. This is where you’ll find rude, lyrical new work set on the London streets by first-time playwrights like Bola Agbaje and the more established but no less cool Mark Ravenhill. Split between two floors – with the mid-capacity Jerwood Theatre Downstairs and the studio-style Jerwood Theatre Upstairs – the Royal Court also houses an excellent bookshop geared towards theatregoers and a café bar with a weighty menu serving up more than your average bag of peanuts.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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Shakespeare's Globe

Shakespeare's Globe

The original Globe Theatre, where many of William Shakespeare's plays were first staged and which he co-owned, burned to the ground in 1613 during a performance of 'Henry VIII'. Nearly 400 years later, it was rebuilt not far from its original site, using construction methods and materials as close to the originals as possible. Shakespeare’s Globe has been an unbridled success, underpinned in part by its educational programme (you can drop in for talks and readings) and its commitment to faithfully recreating an original ‘Shakespeare in performance’ experience from April to October. The open-air, free-standing Yard is the best bet for those after complete authenticity – the absence of seating may test your stamina but tickets are excellent value – while the Middle and Upper Galleries afford a (marginally more comfortable) atmosphere of their own. The only thing that tends to mar a performance is the theatre’s somewhat noisy, flight-path location. In the UnderGlobe beneath the theatre is a fine exhibition on the history of the reconstruction, Bankside and its original theatres, and Shakespeare's London. Guided tours of the Shakespeare's Globe theatre run throughout the year. If the Bard is not your bag, look out for various seasonal festivals that take place on the riverside area outside the Globe Theatre. For more information about visiting the Globe Theatre, head to www.timeout.com/outdoor-theatre-faqs

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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Lyric Hammersmith

Lyric Hammersmith

A beacon of culture in Hammersmith, the Lyric's distinctive look is largely down to a fusion of the building's 1970s structure, the theatre's Victorian heritage and a modern interior.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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