Putting on the world’s greatest shows since Shakespeare made his mark in the 1500s, London — along with New York City’s Broadway — is the most iconic place in the world to watch theatre. If you’ve made your way through the long list of West End giants like The Lion King and Mamma Mia, don’t worry — you’re not done just yet.
From dark, heart-wrenching melodrama to all-singing, all-dancing musicals, here’s our pick of London’s hottest new shows for spring and summer 2019.
1. Waitress, Adelphi Theatre
Featuring the West End’s first-ever all-female creative team, Waitress — a hilarious yet heart-wrenching story of a pie-making genius with a dream to escape her abusive relationship — has already made history in London. With music by seven-time Grammy nominee Sarah Bareilles and a stellar lead performance by American Idol’s Katharine McPhee, this uplifting, foot-stomping musical is set to take the West End by storm.
Dates: From February 8 to October 19, 2019
Tickets: From £19.50 to £100 ($25.50 to $130.50)
Visit the show’s official website to book.
2. Betrayal, Harold Pinter Theatre
Starring Hollywood and BBC megastar Tom Hiddleston (as well as HBO’s Charlie Cox and Channel 4’s Zawe Ashton), Betrayal is one of the most hotly anticipated shows to arrive in London this year. But the star-studded lineup isn’t all that’s turning heads. Harold Pinter’s intensely gripping story of a seven-year affair is made all the more complex as it unfolds in reverse chronological order.
Dates: from March 5 to June 8, 2019
Tickets: From £15 to £99.50 ($20 to $130)
Visit the Harold Pinter Theatre’s official website to book.
3. Tree, Young Vic
Soundtracked by Luther star Idris Elba and directed by award-winning playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah, Tree takes a hard-hitting, emotional look at contemporary South Africa through music, dance, and drama. The play begins with a man returning to his parent’s homeland due to a family tragedy, but winds up being a powerful metaphor for identity and belonging. But perhaps the most fascinating part is that the audience takes center stage here: Visitors will be asked to stand in the middle of the theatre, where the action will begin to unfold around them, rather than in front of them.
Dates: From July 29 to August 24, 2019
Tickets: From £10 to £40 ($13 to $52)
Visit the Young Vic’s official website to book.
4. Audience Choice, The Globe
You’re ready to bet that you’ve never turned up to the theatre with no clue as to what show you’re going to see. The Globe — an iconic open-air theatre built in 1599 by Shakespeare’s playing company — has always done things a little differently, but this summer they’ve really stepped it up. For five performances only, it will be up to the audience to vote between three plays: Pericles, Twelfth Night, or The Comedy of Errors. The biggest cheer wins, so come prepared to raise the roof for your favorite Shakespearean play.
Dates: From May 4 to August 24, 2019
Tickets: From £5 to £47 ($6.50 to $61.50)
Visit Shakespeare’s Globe’s website to book.
5. Evita, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Based on the story of Eva Peron — the legendary First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952, multi-award-winning Evita is finally making a comeback to the West End stage this summer. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s iconic musical first appeared in London back in 2006, and has since toured in New York, Melbourne, and Singapore. This time around, Evita will play in the romantic open-air theatre in Regent’s Park, and there’s no better place to watch up-and-coming star Emma Kingston perform her powerful rendition of “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina.”
Dates: From August 2 to September 21, 2019
Tickets: From £28 to £66.25 ($36.50 to $86.50)
Visit the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s website to book.
6. Emilia, Vaudeville Theatre
Featuring an all-female cast, Emilia is an empowering musical based on the life of Emilia Bassano, the female playwright from the 17th century who, despite her talent, was erased from the history books. Promoting female solidarity in the West End like never before, the show has already made headlines for putting on exclusive performances for parents and carers with babies under 12 months old, not to mention that the show’s writer, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, offered to babysit for a member of the audience. Theatre, she says, should be for everyone, mothers included.
Dates: From March 21 to June 15, 2019
Tickets: From £25 to £100 ($32.50 to $130.50)
Visit the Nimax Theatres’ website to book.
7. 9 to 5: The Musical, Savoy Theatre
If you came to London for the all-singing, all-dancing glitz and glamor that the West End is famous for, then 9 to 5: The Musical will speak to you. Created by Dolly Parton herself, this hilarious musical — based on the 1980’s movie of the same name where Dolly played Doralee Rhodes — tells the story of three women trying to take back control in a male-dominated workplace. It’s jam-packed with cheesy one-liners and glass-shattering ballads, but that’s what musicals are all about.
Dates: From January 28 to August 31, 2019
Tickets: From £20 to £175 ($26 to $229)
Visit the show’s official website to book.
8. Come From Away, Phoenix Theatre
Following huge success on Broadway, Come From Away — an uplifting musical that interprets the true story of the 7,000 passengers stranded in the town of Gander, Canada, during the 9/11 attacks — finally makes its debut on the London stage. The show opens with panic, confusion, and tension, but all-night dancing, storytelling, and the warm-heartedness of Newfoundlers quickly transform complete strangers into lifelong friends — and a devastating event into a touching story of human kindness. It’s the definition of feel-good theatre.
Dates: From January 30 to September 1, 2019
Tickets: From £29 to £144 ($38 to $188)
Visit the Phoenix Theatre’s website to book.
9. The End of History, Royal Court
Most famously known for bringing the epic Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to the West End, writer Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany have once again teamed up. But this time they’re bringing something entirely different to the table: a raw, heartfelt family drama that comments on the decline of domestic socialism. Set in 1997, The End of History — with a healthy dose of dry, witty humor — uses a long overdue family dinner to tell the story of the women who protested against the storing of nuclear weapons in Berkshire’s Greenham Common between 1981 and 2000. We told you: no wizards and flying broomsticks here.
Dates: From June 27 to August 10, 2019
Tickets: From £12 to £49 ($15.50 to $64)
Visit the Royal Court Theatre’s website to book.