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London theatre for 2019 – shows not to miss

Our pick of the best London plays and musicals coming up and booking now

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Bridge Theatre
© Brinkhoff Mogenburg
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Want to know which London theatre shows, plays and musicals you should be booking for in 2019? Let us make it easy for you with our list of the 19 shows we think will be best in 2019, in the West End and beyond.

It will be updated throughout the year.

SEE ALSO: the best new shows in London this month

1
<meta charset="utf-8" /><p><span>Matt Smith and Claire Foy</span></p>
Theatre, Drama

Lungs

icon-location-pin Old Vic, Waterloo
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Duncan Macmillan’s brilliant linguistically experimental two-hander about a couple freaking out over the prospect of having a baby 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.

2
Ghost Quartet, Boulevard Theatre
Theatre, Musicals

Ghost Quartet

icon-location-pin Boulevard Theatre, Soho
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This Poe-indebted song-cycle of musical ghost stories – performed by the titular four-piece band – is an early work from Dave Malloy, best known for his out there Broadway hit ‘Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812’. Unlike that show, ‘Ghost Quartet’ is finally getting a London premiere: as the inaugural production at the new Boulevard Theatre in Soho. 

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3
The Antipodes, National Theatre 2019
Theatre, Drama

The Antipodes

icon-location-pin National Theatre, South Bank
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One of the biggest feathers in the Rufus Norris-era National Theatre’s cap is that the Dorfman has become the London home for the works of the brilliant American playwright Annie Baker…

4
'Mary Poppins' returns to the West End in 2019
© Seamus Ryan
Theatre, Musicals

Mary Poppins

icon-location-pin Prince Edward Theatre, Soho
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Brolly-clutching supernanny Mary Poppins is floating back into the West End in late 2019, with the return of Disney and Cameron Mackintosh's musical after an international tour, and capitalising on the recent success of the film sequel. 

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5
Dear Evan Hansen, Broadway cast 2018
© Matthew Murphy
Theatre, Musicals

Dear Evan Hansen

icon-location-pin Noël Coward Theatre, Covent Garden
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It feels like 2019 is the year every single hit Broadway musical of the last three years descends upon London. Following hot on the heels of ‘Waitress’, ‘9 to 5’ and ‘Come from Away’, here’s tearjerking Tony-winner ‘Dear Evan Hansen’. Written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, with a book by Steven Levenson, the musical concerns the eponymous troubled teen…

6
& Juliet, 2019
© MICHAEL WHARLEY
Theatre, Musicals

& Juliet

icon-location-pin Shaftesbury Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue
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Superstar Swedish songwriter Max Martin has probably done more to shape the contemporary pop landscape than any human being aliveBut what storyline to hang two decades of eclectic chart-toppers off? Here’s your answer: ‘& Juliet’ is a reimagining of the events of Shakespeare’s tragic romance ‘Romeo & Juliet’ in which Juliet opts not to top herself at the end and instead heads off to France on a roadtrip of self-discovery…

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7
My Brilliant Friend, Rose Theatre Kingston
© Marc Brenner
Theatre, Drama

My Brilliant Friend

icon-location-pin National Theatre, South Bank
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Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet is to millennials now what 'Harry Potter' was to millennials 15 years ago…

Time Out says
8
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Bridge Theatre
Theatre, Children's

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

icon-location-pin Bridge Theatre, Tower Bridge
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For its first ever family Christmas show, the Bridge Theatre bags the London transfer of director Sally Cookson’s devised adaptation of CS Lewis’s beloved kids’ fantasy novel…

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9
The Boy Friend. Menier Chocolate Factory, 2020
Theatre, Drama

The Boy Friend

icon-location-pin Menier Chocolate Factory, Southwark
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Sandy Wilson's determinedly frivolous '20s-inspired musical ‘The Boy Friend’ was a ray of sunshine when it first premiered in depressed post-war London, starring no less than Julie Andrews…

10
Fairview, Young Vic 2019
Theatre, Drama

Fairview

icon-location-pin Young Vic, Southwark
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Young Vic associate director Nadia Latif finally gets a shot at the theatre’s main house as she helms up the UK premiere of US playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury’s metatheatrical race drama, which presents us with a scene of a black family that it proceeds to mercilessly subvert. 

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11
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, National Theatre 2019
Theatre, Children's

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

icon-location-pin National Theatre, South Bank
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An exciting Christmas show from the National Theatre here, as Joel Horwood adapts Neil Gaiman’s 2013 novel about an unnamed man who returns to his childhood home and struggles to remember a strange past in which he and a young girl named Lettie fought against malign spirits, and travelled on the titular ocean…

12
Cyrano de Bergerac, 2019, James McAvoy
Theatre, Drama

Cyrano de Bergerac

icon-location-pin Playhouse Theatre, Charing Cross
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This was semi-announced aeons ago, but it’s now confirmed: James McAvoy will team up with super-director Jamie Lloyd for the fourth time on stage to star as the eponymous big-nosed polymath hero of Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play, in a new translation by Martin Crimp…

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13
Amélie the Musical, 2019
© Pamela Raith
Theatre, Musicals

Amélie the Musical

icon-location-pin The Other Palace, Victoria
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This all-singing version of the cult French classic film about a shy women who commits small, secretive acts of kindness has been touring the UK to great acclaim for much of the year. Now it comes to London for a Christmas run, retaining Brit-based French-Canadian Audrey Brisson in the title role.

14
'Sh!t Actually' at Camden People's Theatre
Photograph: Lizzie Coombes
Theatre, Comedy

Sh!t Actually

icon-location-pin Camden People's Theatre, Euston
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Endlessly inventive duo Sh!t Theatre are putting their own messed-up spin on a love-to-hate (or hate-to-love) movie classic this Christmas. 'Sh!t Actually' is a two woman remake of festive Britflick 'Love Actually'…

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15
The Duchess of Malfi, Almeida Theatre, 2019
Photograph: Nadav Kander
Theatre, Drama

The Duchess of Malfi

icon-location-pin Almeida Theatre, Islington
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Successor to Robert Icke as the Almeida’s associate director, Rebecca Frecknall helms up her second show of the year at the Islington powerhouse, this time turning her attention to John Webster’s macabre revenge tragedy ‘The Duchess of Malfi’. Lydia Wilson plays the virtuous noblewoman, doomed by the unhealthy obsessions of her wicked brothers…

16
Three Sisters, Inua Ellams, National Theatre 2019
Theatre, Drama

Three Sisters

icon-location-pin National Theatre, South Bank
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Inua Ellams relocates Chekhov’s melancholy masterpiece ‘Three Sisters’ to ‘60s Nigeria and the eve of the Biafran Civil War. In it, three sisters yearn to leave their provincial village life and return to the bright lights of Lagos. Sarah Niles, Natalie Simpson and Racheal Ofori take on the title roles in Nadia Fall's production.

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17
Sondheim Theatre, 2019
Theatre, Musicals

Les Misérables

icon-location-pin Sondheim Theatre, Soho
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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 maintenance work? Or it is effectively a new show?  We’re, uh, not sure – but we’ll get to find out soon.

18
Swive [Elizabeth], Shakespeare's Globe 2019
Theatre, Drama

Swive [Elizabeth]

icon-location-pin Shakespeare's Globe, South Bank
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Ella Hickson follows up this year’s NT experiment ‘Anna’ and last year’s Time Out show of the year ‘The Writer’ with ‘Swive [Elizabeth]’, a drama that interrogates the means by which Elizabeth I used her appearance to maintain control during her intensely patriarchal era. Natalie Abrahami directs.

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19
Snowflake, Mike Bartlett, Kiln Theatre, 2019
Theatre, Drama

Snowflake

icon-location-pin Kiln Theatre, Kilburn
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Mike Bartlett calling a Christmas play ‘Snowflake’ – and yes, that is in the contemporary use of the word – is probably the most Mike Bartlett thing he has ever done, and that faces some competition. It tells the story of Andy, an embittered middle-aged man hoping to welcome his estranged daughter home that evening…

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