Female-led West End shows to see for International Women's Day
Celebrate the joy of International Women's Day with West End shows that continue to challenge stereotypes and champion the power of difference in society.
International Women's Day is a celebration of women - from marking their achievements to raising awareness of campaigns for women's rights and fundraising for female-focussed charities. It's all about making a collective effort to foster gender equity through positive, impactful change.
International Women's Day was born out of the universal female suffrage movement and the social revolution of the early 20th century. In 1909, the Socialist Party of America organised a National Woman's Day, and the following year, the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen decided to hold such a day every year - with the first one taking place in 1911. International Women's Day became a national holiday in Soviet Russia in 1917 and subsequently in other communist countries, but it wasn't until 1977 that the United Nations recognised it as an official global holiday.
Celebrated on March 8, International Women's Day has a different theme every year. The campaign theme for 2023 is #EmbraceEquity, encouraging everyone to create a more inclusive world, to challenge harmful stereotypes and discrimination, and to ensure that true gender equality is a part of every society’s DNA.
If you're looking for ways to celebrate International Women's Day, why not book tickets for a West End show? There are numerous fantastic productions that embody those campaign ideas, and the theatre community has a long history of challenging stereotypes and showing the power of difference.
If you're looking for an International Women's Day show that digs into its 2023 theme of equity (so helping each individual to succeed by recognising we all need different things), then Wicked is a perfect choice. The long-running musical subverts the Wizard of Oz tale, where the Wicked Witch of the West is an irredeemable villain, and instead gives us a version where that witch, Elphaba, is a victim of misunderstanding and discrimination.
Elphaba's green skin immediately marks her as different, and, though she dreams of gaining the Wizard's approval so that she'll finally be accepted, she gradually learns that others see her power as threatening. In contrast, her friend from school Glinda is labelled "good" because she fulfils her expected female role and doesn't challenge the status quo.
Wicked is also radical because the show puts a friendship between two women at the heart of the show. Although there is romance, too, ultimately it's not as important as standing up for what's right, as well as learning from and supporting other women. "Defying Gravity" is the ultimate anthem for International Women's Day.
Book Wicked tickets on London Theatre.
What better show to see for International Women's Day than one about six women reclaiming their version of "herstory"? That's what this original pop musical featuring the six wives of Henry VIII is all about. The infamous monarch is nowhere to be seen in this version. Instead, the queens take their rightful place centre stage and sing about what the king put them through and why they deserve their rightful places in the history books.
While at the outset, the musical appears to be about which queen had it the hardest, the overall message is perfect for International Women's Day: there's room for everyone and we're all more powerful when we come together. Plus, you'll get to enjoy some of the catchiest earworms in the West End, with dance numbers, ballads, and hits inspired by modern pop queens like Beyonce, Adele, Lily Allen, Ariana Grande, Alicia Keys, and more.
So discover your inner queen, and get tickets to see this empowering pop musical for International Women's Day.
Book Six tickets on London Theatre.
Let it go this International Women's Day and take a trip to Arendelle where the story of sisterhood and embracing your own power will have you wanted to sing in your own ice castle. Disney's blockbuster hit has become an enrapturing stage musical, complete with magical effects and the same heartwarming story about sisters Anna and Elsa.
Elsa must learn to embrace her control over ice and snow, while Anna goes on a quest to reconnect with her sister and form the most powerful bond of all: sisterhood. Whether you're seeing the show with your girlfriends, your sisters, or even on your own, Frozen offers an empowering message for everyone about individuality, family, and friendship over romance.
So what are you waiting for? Venture through the open door at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, and see a show that will make everyone realize their own power on International Women's day.
Book Frozen tickets on London Theatre.
This spring, Sheridan Smith makes a much-anticipated return to the stage in Willy Russell’s one-woman play Shirley Valentine. The Funny Girl, Legally Blonde and Joseph and the Amazing Dreamcoat star now takes on the character of housewife Shirley, who spends every day the same way – cooking chips and egg for her husband – but dreams of a more fulfilling life.
Russell’s quietly radical work, which sees Shirley discover a whole new side of herself when she and a friend travel to Greece, is a powerful argument for women having their own autonomy and purpose, and for us all being able to live out our dreams. It should be a fantastic showcase for Smith, and would certainly make for a stirring theatre trip this International Women’s Day.
Book Shirley Valentine tickets on London Theatre.
Another woman who seized control of her destiny, musical icon Tina Turner fought to liberate herself from an abusive marriage and started her career from scratch, becoming a rock ‘n’ roll legend at an age when many women (especially women of colour) were being written off by the industry. Turner changed that narrative, and in serious style: no wonder she’s still considered simply the best.
This compelling musical tells her story, from humble beginnings in Nutbush, Tennessee, through her time with Ike Turner, and then her new chapter as a solo artist. Along the way, you get to enjoy all of those amazing hits: “River Deep Mountain High”, “Proud Mary”, “Private Dancer”, “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” and more. It’s an inspiring story of one woman overcoming countless barriers: perfect for getting your fired up on International Women’s Day, and being inspired to fight on.
Book Tina: The Tina Turner Musical tickets on London Theatre.
Read all about it! The headline-making Disney musical, based on the real-life Newsboys’ Strike of 1899 in New York, chimes with our current wave of industrial action as yet more workers take a principled stand. That definitely chimes with the International Women’s Day 2023 theme of #EmbraceEquity – and, even better, in this incredible UK production of Newsies, the battle comes with amazing ensemble numbers (like “Carrying the Banner” and “Seize the Day”) packed with jaw-dropping dancing and acrobatics.
It might seem like a male-led tale, but actually plenty of the strikers were female – and Matt Cole’s London production reflects that in its casting. Plus there are two key women in the show supporting the newsies’ cause: aspiring journalist Katherine, who ensures that their story is actually told; and African-American singer and club owner Medda, who gives them a literal platform. Best of all, the show champions intersectional solidarity: when we all stand together, nothing can stop us.
Book Newsies tickets on London Theatre.
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