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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

King Hedley, Lenny Henry, 2019
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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
Death of a Salesman, Young Vic, 2019
© Brinkhoff-Moegenburg
Theatre, Drama

Death of a Salesman

icon-location-pin Young Vic, Southwark
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You won’t be able to move for Arthur Miller plays on The Cut next year: the Old Vic is playing host to mouthwatering revivals of ‘The American Clock’ and ‘All My Sons’, and the Young Vic’s putting on this classic from the great Marianne Elliott. She makes her debut at the Young Vic directing a phenomenal all-black (thus far) cast – including ‘The Wire’ star Wendell Pierce and Brit greats Sharon D Clarke and Arinzé Kene – in Miller’s iconic tragedy about deluded travelling salesman Willy Loman. 

2
White Pearl, Royal Court
© Niall McDiarmid
Theatre, Drama

White Pearl

icon-location-pin Royal Court Theatre, Belgravia
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Australian-Thai playwright Anchuli Felicia King is an unknown quantity in the UK, but it’s hard not to get excited when the Royal Court swings behind an up-and-coming writer so wholeheartedly. Her international debut, ‘White Pearl’, centres on racism within different East Asian ethnic groups, and is a big, boisterous satire set in a Singaporean skin-whitening start-up. It’s directed by King’s similarly unknown peer Nana Dakin.

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3
King Hedley, Lenny Henry, 2019
Theatre, Drama

King Hedley II

icon-location-pin Theatre Royal Stratford East, Stratford
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Lenny Henry lends his star power to the concluding show in Nadia Fall’s first season at TRSE: he plays smooth-talking American hustler Elmore, who dreams of escape from crumbling ‘80s Pittsburgh in August Wilson’s 1999 drama. 

4
SWEAT
Theatre, Drama

Sweat

icon-location-pin Gielgud Theatre, Soho
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The Donmar’s stunning production of Lynn Nottage’s masterpiece about the decline of post-industrial America transfers to the West End.

Time Out says
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5
The Light in the Piazza, Royal Festival Hall, 2019
Theatre, Musicals

The Light in the Piazza

icon-location-pin Royal Festival Hall, South Bank
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This sumptuous ’50s-set American musical was a big hit when it ran on Broadway in 2005, bagging itself a highly respectable six Tony awards. A West End transfer for ‘The Light in the Piazza’ has never occurred, possibly because the lavish orchestration required for Craig Lucas and Adam Guettel’s retro romance was a bit rich for the blood of most Theatreland producers. But here’s the perfect solution: a summer run at the enormous, subsidised Royal Festival Hall.

6
The Damned, Ivo van Hove
© Jan Versweyveld
Theatre, Drama

The Damned

icon-location-pin Barbican Centre, Barbican
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Super-director Ivo van Hove hooks up with French titans Comédie-Française to present this toweringly gloomy stage adaptation of Luchino Visconti 1969 film ‘The Damned’. 

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7
Sheridan Smith, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, London Palladium 2019
Theatre, Musicals

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

icon-location-pin London Palladium, Soho
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Musical theatre legend Andrew Lloyd Webber has come over all nostalgic and is bringing back his first ever hit: the epic, Biblically-inspired 'Joseph'. Sheridan Smith will take on the role of Narrator, her first stage role since ‘Funny Girl’, and former star of the show Jason Donovan will return to it as the Pharaoh.

8
The Night of the Iguana, 2019, Clive Owen Lia Williams, Julian Glover, Anna Gunn
Theatre, Drama

The Night of the Iguana

icon-location-pin Noël Coward Theatre, Covent Garden
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It’s been 19 years since Clive Owen acted on the West End stage and almost as long since London saw a major revival of Tennessee Williams’s brooding classic ‘The Night of the Iguana’. Now big Brit star Owen will take on the role of Rev T Lawrence Shannon, a disgraced priest now plying his trade as a second rate Mexican tour guide. He's joined by Lia Williams, Anna Gunn and Julian Glover.

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9
Tree, Young Vic, Idris Elba
Theatre, Drama

Tree

icon-location-pin Young Vic, Southwark
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Idris Elba is the big draw in this Young Vic-Manchester International Festival co-production, even if he doesn’t actually star in ‘Tree’. Co-created by the ‘Luther’ star and Young Vic boss Kwame Kwei-Armah, the show is ‘a thrilling journey in search of the soul and spirit of contemporary South Africa’ that’s soundtracked by Elba’s 2014 album ‘Mi Mandela’. 

10
Appropriate, Donmar Warehouse, 2019
Theatre, Drama

Appropriate

icon-location-pin Donmar Warehouse, Covent Garden
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For the second show in Longhurst’s first season at the Donmar, Ola Ince directs the UK premiere of the brillian Brenden Jacob-Jenkins’s ‘Appropriate’, a provocative family reunion drama in which the white Lafayette family make a shocking discovery in their late father’s home. Recent Olivier-winner Monica Dolan stars as Toni.

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11
Evita, Regent's Park Open Theatre, 2019
Theatre, Outdoor theatres

Evita

icon-location-pin Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park
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In a big year for the back catalogue of Andrew Lloyd Webber, this looks set to be the most exciting entry: Jamie Lloyd follows up his marathon Pinter at the Pinter project by giving Lloyd Webber’s epic about Argentinean leader Eva Peron its first new London production in over a decade…

12
A Very Expensive Poison, Old Vic, Lucy Prebble
Theatre, Drama

A Very Expensive Poison

icon-location-pin Old Vic, Southwark
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Lucy Prebble finally returns with ‘A Very Expensive Poison’, which the Old Vic announced aeons ago but now finally has dates and a director. John Crowley will helm a work based upon Luke Harding’s book about the poisoning of Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko: it’s being billed as a sort of surreal spy thriller, but expect the unexpected from the author of the landmark ‘ENRON’.

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13
Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag at the Big Belly, Underbelly.
© Richard Davenport
Theatre, Drama

Fleabag

icon-location-pin Wyndham's Theatre, Covent Garden
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Phoebe Waller-Bridge dusts off the genius 2013 monologue that kicked her career into overdrive for one, final West End run.

Time Out says
14
Mamma Mia! The Party
© Dewynters
Theatre, Interactive

Mamma Mia! The Party

icon-location-pin The O2, Greenwich Peninsula
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Open run

Björn Ulvaeus’s immersive experience ‘Mamma Mia! The Party’ his a night of eating, drinking and Abba songs set in a taverna on the same Greek island as the smash hit musical ‘Mamma Mia!’…

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15
Bluebeard. Kill. Glass., Royal Court 2019
Theatre, Experimental

Glass. Kill. Bluebeard.

icon-location-pin Royal Court Theatre, Belgravia
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Britain’s greatest living playwright Caryl Churchill is back at her usual haunt the Royal Court with three short plays. In terms of what the plays are about: we don’t know, and possibly won’t after seeing them, although for what it’s worth the official description of ‘Glass. Kill. Bluebeard.’ runs: ‘A girl made of glass. Gods and murders. A serial killer’s friends’.

16
'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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17
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…

18
& Juliet, Max Martin
Theatre, Musicals

& Juliet

icon-location-pin Shaftesbury Theatre, Covent Garden
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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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19
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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