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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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9 ways to celebrate Shakespeare’s 455th birthday
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9 ways to celebrate Shakespeare’s 455th birthday

William Shakespeare turns a very respectable 455 years this week. Here’s how you can celebrate in London

Latest theatre reviews
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Latest theatre reviews

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

The best new theatre shows to see in April
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The best new theatre shows to see in April

It’s another massive month for theatre – don’t miss any of these shows

The best family theatre in London this Easter
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The best family theatre in London this Easter

Forget stuffing your face with chocolate eggs – there's an even better buzz in store at London's children's theatre shows…

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

Latest theatre reviews

‘Ain't Misbehavin’ review
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‘Ain't Misbehavin’ review

‘Ain’t Misbehavin’ ain’t really a musical. With no story or plot, it’s really just a slick revue plundering the back catalogue of legendary jazz pianist Fats Waller…

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
‘Noughts & Crosses’ review
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‘Noughts & Crosses’ review

Social privilege is often invisible to those who have it. Malorie Blackman’s award-winning 2001 novel for young adults, ‘Noughts & Crosses’, tackled this by flipping the script…

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
‘Atomic 50 – Time Travels in Tin’ review
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‘Atomic 50 – Time Travels in Tin’ review

Abigail Conway’s brilliant little immersive theatre show is all set to take the makers revolution to the kids…

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
‘Other People's Money’ review
Theatre

‘Other People's Money’ review

From Oliver Stone’s ‘Wall Street’ to Caryl Churchill’s ‘Serious Money’, the late ‘80s was a boom time for dramas about awful people buying shares in things…

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
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All My Sons

All My Sons

The Old Vic's following up 'An American Clock' with another vintage Arthur Miller play, 'All My Sons' - Miller's tragedy about a shattered family in post-war America, and the patriarch who betrayed them. Sally Field, Bill Pullman, Jenna Coleman and Colin Morgan star.

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4 out of 5 stars
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Man of La Mancha

Man of La Mancha

Opera fans might harrumph, but the ENO is continuing its quixotic forays into the world of musical theatre with this vintage historical musical. 'Frasier' star Kelsey Grammer will play Cervantes, starring alongside Australian operatic soprano Danielle de Niese…

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Evita

Evita

In a big year for the back catalogue of Andrew Lloyd Webber, this looks set to be the most exciting entry…

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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 London Theatre Offers

Exclusive London Theatre Offers

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

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41% off ‘Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew’

41% off ‘Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew’

A classic Shakespeare play with one pissed-up cast member, at Leicester Square Theatre

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More great theatre tickets

Aladdin review

Aladdin review

They don’t really have pantomimes in the US, which may explain why the creatives behind this hit Broadway adaptation of Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ made a pantomime, probably without realising. There’s no Widow Twankey or Wishee Washee, but Alan Menken’s musical gives you the same things as a decent British panto ‘Aladdin’: lavish set pieces (designer Bob Crowley has done some impressive things); campy, knowing, fourth wall-breaking humour; songs (obvs); a magic carpet sequence; a dull hero (Dean John-Wilson’s prominent man-cleavage is the most memorable bit of his performance); a ludicrously OTT villain (Don Gallagher’s Jafar laps up the boos at curtain call); and a scene-stealing dame (more later). It’s well done, but talk about selling coals to Newcastle: the humour hits the spot with Howard Ashman’s dry lyrics, but it lacks the inspired madness of, say, the Hackney Empire panto. Alongside the other big West End Disney musical, Julie Taymor’s ‘The Lion King’, it struggles to establish a distinct, theatrical identity. And my mind boggled at how the diverse, largely British cast has had bland American accents foisted upon them to play Middle Eastern characters. One decision producers won’t be regretting is importing star of the Broadway show Trevor Dion Nicholas as Genie. The role could have been something of a poisoned, er, lamp, given Robin Williams’s iconic turn in the 1992 film. But glitter-doused Nicholas makes it his own with a kinetic mix of fabulousness and physicality. He

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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‘Toast’ review

‘Toast’ review

Consider this ‘Nigel Slater: The Origin Story’. Reaching The Other Palace via Manchester’s The Lowry – where it premiered in 2018 – and the Edinburgh Fringe, ‘Toast’ is playwright Henry Filloux-Bennett’s loving adaptation of the food writer’s acclaimed memoir of the same name.‘Toast’, the play, turns a spotlight on the tragedy-tinged childhood of Nigel (Giles Cooper) in 1960s West Midlands, from ages nine to 16. It covers the early death of his Mum (Lizzie Muncey) and then his strained, often awful relationship with his grieving, increasingly violent Dad (Stephen Ventura).Filloux-Bennett’s script suffers a little from the ping-pong effect common to many memoir adaptations, sometimes bouncing too breathlessly between major events. But where ‘Toast’ succeeds is in capturing the same intoxicating, engrossing pleasure of food that the real-life Slater turns into mouth-watering poetry in his cookbooks. It’s woven into every part of Nigel’s life, beginning with his nine-year-old self’s commentary on making jam tarts with Mum. Later, it’s part of domestic warfare with step-mum Joan.Every meal tells a story in Slater’s writing and the same is true here. From the deeply traditional family’s disastrous experiment with spaghetti bolognese, to Nigel’s Victoria sandwich one-upmanship with Joan, food is funny, a waft of nostalgia and sometimes burnt at the edges.Director Jonnie Riordan’s production is light and fluid: a heightened reality of family life and cooking sessions that take place

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
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The Lion King

The Lion King

The posters have been plastered around the London Underground for years – long enough for this show to become the most successful musical of all time – but nothing prepares you for the sheer impact of 'The Lion King's opening sequence. With the surge of 'Circle Of Life' reverberating through your chest, Julie Taymor's animal creations march on, species by species. Gazelles spring, birds swoop and an elephant and her child lumber through the stalls. It's a cacophonous cavalcade that genuinely stops you breathing. You'd think Noah's Ark had emptied onto the stage. For a global blockbuster, 'The Lion King's absolute theatricality is astonishing. Techniques from all over the world – African masks, Japanese Kabuki costumes, Malaysian shadow puppetry – are smashed together in an explosion of spectacle. It's perfect for a musical, allowing both distinct flavours and an eclectic carnival spirit. Admittedly, things deflate when it sacrifices this defiant originality for subservient approximation of the film. Timon and Pumba (Damian Baldet and Keith Bookman), though impressively like their screen counterparts, step into the savannah from a different dimension. The hyena-infested elephant's graveyard swaps menace for goofiness and the famous stampede scene, so delicately handled and moving in the film, is merely ticked off with a sigh of relief. The familiarity of the film is a root cause of the show's commercial success. But, ironically, 'The Lion King' can't afford such compromis

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

Immersive theatre in London
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Immersive theatre in London

London is bursting with plays and performances that defy stuffy conventions 

Theatre interviews
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Theatre interviews

Peek behind-the-scenes with London's theatrical talents

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

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
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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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