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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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‘Variant 31’: is this immersive zombie apocalypse London’s scariest night out?
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‘Variant 31’: is this immersive zombie apocalypse London’s scariest night out?

The undead have taken over the West End – only you can stop them

Latest theatre reviews
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Latest theatre reviews

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

19 best new theatre shows of 2019
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19 best new theatre shows of 2019

It's 2019 and here are the theatre shows you should be booking for in 2019

Cheap and last minute theatre tickets in London
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Cheap and last minute theatre tickets in London

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

The best new theatre shows opening in London September 2019
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The best new theatre shows opening in London September 2019

Check out our picks for the best new theatre shows to see in London in September

Latest theatre reviews

‘Big the Musical’ review

‘Big the Musical’ review

‘Big the Musical’ is woefully adequate: ticking every box you’d expect for a big-budget stage adaptation of an ‘80s screen comedy, but doing so with a can’t-be-arsed listlessness…

Time Out says
2 out of 5 stars
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2 out of 5 stars
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‘Faith, Hope and Charity’ review
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‘Faith, Hope and Charity’ review

In theory, there’s something unavoidably worthy about the work of Alexander Zeldin, the writer/director who has earnestly and astutely chronicled the age of austerity for the National Theatre…

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
“Anna Bella Eema’ review
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“Anna Bella Eema’ review

In a dilapidated American trailer park, perched between a forest and a construction site, lives a werewolf. Probably…

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
‘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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Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp.
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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

£19.50 tickets to ‘The Man in the White Suit’ at Wyndham’s Theatre

£19.50 tickets to ‘The Man in the White Suit’ at Wyndham’s Theatre

Get nearly 50% off tickets to this eccentric play

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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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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

Mamma Mia!

Mamma Mia!

Judy Craymer's bold idea of turning the insanely catchy songs of ABBA into a musical has paid off splendidly, in every sense – box office figures for 'Mamma Mia!' are as eye-watering as its outfits. This is largely because Catherine Johnson had the sense to weave the 1970s into her script, and director Phyllida Lloyd to cast accordingly. Heroine Donna Sheridan lived the free love dream (if only because her boyfriend ran out on her), wound up pregnant and survived to see her daughter, Sophie, reject all her principles in favour of a white wedding and the kind of certainty that comes from knowing which of your mother's three consecutive lovers ought to be walking you down the aisle. If you wanted to, you could see this as a conversation about feminism. But you'll look pretty silly debating patriarchal oppression while on your feet clapping to 'Dancing Queen'. Some of the songs are oddly static, but when the choreography does get going – for instance, when Donna's friend Tanya stylishly quashes a libidinous local puppy in 'Does Your Mother Know?' – it's terrific, and makes great use of props: I wonder if the producers can assure us that no electric drills or hairdryers were harmed in the making of this musical? The current cast appear to have been chosen more for their singing voices than their serious acting ability. But who needs dramatic conviction when you have purest pop to do the convincing for you? Given the songs, a story just about solid enough to stay upright on its

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
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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‘Tina – The Tina Turner Musical’ review

‘Tina – The Tina Turner Musical’ review

Is a feelgood jukebox musical the absolute best medium to tell a story about domestic abuse? Put crudely, that is the problem at the heart of big-budget global premiere ‘Tina – The Tina Turner Musical’. The erstwhile Anna Mae Bullock’s eventful life and beloved back catalogue are perfect subjects for adaptation. But too often Phyllida Lloyd’s production struggles to make a sensitive synthesis of the two.Where ‘Tina’ undoubtedly succeeds is in the casting of its lead. Broadway performer Adrienne Warren is virtually unknown over here, but it’s instantly apparent why she was tapped up for this. She doesn’t so much imitate Turner as channel her: her technically dazzling but achingly world-weary gale of a voice feels like it should be coming out of a woman decades, if not centuries, older. And while Warren doesn’t really look anything like Turner, she perfectly captures that leggy, rangy, in-charge physicality. From a musical standpoint, she virtually carries the show, singing nigh-on every song and even giving us an encore at the end.Almost as good is heavyweight Brit actor Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, who brings a demonic charisma to the role of Ike Turner. Tina’s abusive bandleader and husband is monstrous in his self-pitying, manipulative rage, but it’s not hard to see the appeal of his raw wit and powerful sense of certainty. It is a deadly serious performance.But the talented creative team of director Lloyd and writer Katori Hall never really crack the correct way to use their lea

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 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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School of Rock - The Musical

School of Rock - The Musical

It is the ultimate musical about male privilege, a show about an under-qualified, over-entitled white guy who shambles his way to public adoration by blithely inflicting bankrupt baby boomer values upon a bunch of impressionable people who don’t know any better.  ‘School of Rock – The Musical’ is also quite good fun. I dunno if it’s the state of the world today, the fact I haven’t seen the Jack Black-starring film, the fact that so much has changed – musically and politically – since the film came out in 2003, or simply the knowledge that it’s written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Julian Fellowes, a couple of Tory lords in their late ’60s, but I felt a bit politically uneasy about ‘School of Rock’, which follows schlubby charlatan Dewey (David Fynn) as he masquerades as a teacher and proves a hit by tearing up his sensitive young charges’ syllabus and making them play old person music.  Its big, catchy number is called ‘Stick It to the Man’. Yet there’s something both problematic and ironic about the fact that in Laurence Connor’s production The Man is represented by two women – Florence Andrews’s hard-working, professional  headmistress Rosalie and Preeya Kalidas’s Patty, a hard-working, professional wife-to-Dewey’s best friend Ned – while in the blue corner we have... Dewey, a self-absorbed bum who everything turns out brilliantly for. Despite apparently being somewhere in his thirties – so presumably born around 1980 – Dewey exclusively loves classic rock bands, and mocks

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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The best theatre in London

London musicals
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London musicals

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

West End theatre shows
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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
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Children's theatre in London

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

London theatre critics' choice
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London theatre critics' choice

These are the shows that got our critics talking

Discover more theatre in London

Shakespeare plays in London
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Shakespeare plays in London

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

London musicals
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London musicals

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

Immersive theatre in London
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Immersive theatre in London

London is bursting with plays and performances that defy stuffy conventions 

London theatre breaks
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London theatre breaks

Hotel and theatre combos that make life a whole lot easier

What's on at

Old Vic
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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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