Top theatre to see in London in July

Discover the best shows to see in London in July 2023, including new hit musicals coming to the West End and thrilling new plays in theatres across the city.

Marianka Swain
Marianka Swain

The sun is shining, the days are long, and school’s nearly out for the summer holidays! We’re halfway through the year, and summer is definitely in full swing. There’s also plenty of action happening in London, with new shows opening every week. Don’t miss out on the West End’s golden hour and spend time at the theatre in July.

Catch the latest openings set to take London by storm in July 2023. If you’re looking for the perfect outdoor theatre trip, then why not see musical La Cage aux Folles at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre? Or catch the red-hot royal comedy The Crown Jewels in the West End.

There’s plenty of theatre for kids that’s suitable for the summer holidays, too. You can head under the sea for a family-friendly adventure like no other with The SpongeBob Musical at the Southbank Centre.

Here are our top picks for London theatre in July.

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La Cage aux Folles

This summer, Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein's trailblazing musical is strutting its glamorous stuff at London's most idyllic outdoor venue, Regent's Park Open Air Theatre. Get ready to hear "I Am What I Am" belted out among the verdant trees and curious resident ducks!

Timothy Sheader directs this revival of a show which, via its story of a gay couple and their engaged son, has always been about the joy of authentic self-expression and acceptance. How will it play in 2023? There's only one way to find out...

Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, from 29 July.

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The SpongeBob Musical

The most fabulous summer holiday destination for family audiences is Bikini Bottom, as SpongeBob Squarepants makes the leap to the stage in this vibrant, giddily entertaining Broadway musical coming to the Southbank Centre in July.

Can SpongeBob save his home from the erupting Mount Humongous? A cast led by Gareth Gates and Divina De Campo will guide you through this eventful tale, delivering an eclectic score by Sara Bareilles, Steven Tyler, John Legend, Tom Kitt, and more.

Southbank Centre, from 26 July.

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The Crown Jewels

It's a right royal event as big-name comedians and actors join forces to pull off the ultimate heist! Al Murray stars as King Charles II in this 17th-century tale reinvented by Simon Nye (The Durrells), recounting a real attempt by Colonel Blood to steal the Crown Jewels.

The uproarious production also features Carrie Hope Fletcher, Mel Giedroyc, Joe Thomas, Neil Morrissey (reuniting him with Men Behaving Badly creator Nye), Aidan McArdle, and Tanvi Virmani. Expect farce and felons aplenty in this criminally funny historical comedy.

Garrick Theatre, from 7 July.

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Another fantastic outdoor theatre venue well worth visiting this summer in London is Shakespeare's Globe, the replica playhouse that lets you experience what it was like to be in the original audience for a Shakespeare play.

In July 2023, something wicked this way comes... Yes, it's Macbeth, aka The Scottish Play, following one couple's murderous obsession with gaining power – partly fuelled by their own grief. Abigail Graham directs this gripping drama in the atmospheric Globe.

Shakespeare's Globe, from 21 July.

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The U.K.'s most exciting drag talents unite to tell the story of artist Elizabeth Thompson, who fought for representation at the elite Royal Academy in the 19th century and became a potent symbol of the struggle for gender equality.

Bringing this Victorian battle up to date is writer Ellen Brammar and a fantastic cast of theatre, musical hall, and drag king legends, presenting a play with original music and audacious swagger. Join the revolution!

Kiln Theatre, from 29 June.

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The Tempest re-imagined for everyone aged six and over

Regent's Park always has a wonderful offering for children as part of its summer season, and 2023 is no exception. This shortened, family-friendly version of Shakespeare's The Tempest is the perfect introduction to the Bard, taking full advantage of the venue's magical setting.

The 75-minute production tells the story of sorceror Prospero, who is stranded on an island with his daughter. When he uses a spell to shipwreck his enemies on the island, it conjures up adventure, romance, monsters, revenge, and finally reconciliation.

Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, from 30 June.

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Then, Now & Next

If you're on the hunt for a fresh new musical this summer, then head down to Southwark Playhouse. The theatre is hosting the U.K. premiere of Then, Now & Next, by Christopher J Orton and Jon Robyns (best known as a West End leading man in the likes of Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera).

The show, about a woman dealing with a difficult past and trying to build a new life, is led by another established West End talent: Alice Fearn, who recently played Elphaba in Wicked and Beverley Bass in Come From Away. Don't miss the birth of a new British musical.

Southwark Playhouse Borough, from 23 June.

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Laurel & Chaplin – The Feud

Did you know that Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel once worked together and were even roommates? At least, until Chaplin got his big Hollywood break – and the two friends fell out big time, even though Laurel eventually followed him into movies.

It's a fascinating, rarely told story of two comic titans, and it's getting the West End treatment this summer in an inventive production full of slapstick, burlesque, and cirque, featuring a multi-talented cast of eight performers.

Cambridge Theatre, from 24 July.

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Beneatha's Place

This new play travels back to 1959, when Beneatha (of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun) swaps prejudiced America for Lagos, as independence sweeps across Africa. But she faces new challenges in her white suburbs. Then, in the present day, Beneatha returns home to an America where a college is questioning the role of African American studies.

Kwame Kwei-Armah, artistic director of the Young Vic, has written this powerful satire about colonial history, the culture wars, and how we deal with our past. Expect plenty of discussion to erupt from this summer's most contentious premiere.

Young Vic, from 27 June.

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