Top theatre to see in London in May
Find out which shows to see in London in May 2022.
One year ago, West End theatres were cautiously opening again with socially-distanced productions and shows with a small cast. Jump forward to today and casts of 30+ take over some of London’s largest stages, breathing new life into old stories. May 2022 in London marks the beginning of limited summer shows and plenty of buzzy productions to whet your appetite.
If you’re in the West End, then why not check out Grease and My Fair Lady this month? Both productions offer new takes that rely on the original source material, updating their respective storylines for a contemporary audience. Venture further around London, and rulers take centre stage: Julius Caesar and Henry VIII at Shakespeare’s Globe and Britannicus at Lyric Hammersmith to name a few. Plus with new takes on American greats, we’re seriously spoiled for theatre in London this month.
Here are our top picks for what to see in London this May.
This musical is the one you need, oh yes indeed! It's been 50 years since Grease took over Broadway, and now the high school musical heads to the West End once more. In case you’ve lived under a rock and don’t know the Grease story, the popular teen musical sees Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski fall in love one summer, only to be reunited with other at Rydell High. Their senior year is difficult, but the Pink Ladies and Burger Palace Boys do all they can to stay by each other's side.
The Grease London production features high-energy choreography by Arlene Phillips and three "new" songs previously cut in Grease shows. Expect a new Grease in the West End this summer, and get ready for Grease to be the word!
Dominion Theatre, from 3 May.
Many Shakespeare plays in recent months reflect the world we live in: Henry V at the Donmar Warehouse explored war and the upcoming King Lear will tackle family relationships. Shakespeare’s Globe in May welcomes a new production of Julius Caesar. It's a gripping political drama which sees leaders fight for greatness in a turbulent world.
Based on Roman events, the Julius Caesar play sees Cassius and Brutus try to eliminate Caesar from his newfound position, but it’s easier said than done. However, it’s easy to see Julius Caesar in London, and tickets are on sale now.
Shakespeare’s Globe, from 3 May.
Wouldn’t it be luverly to see My Fair Lady in London? Now you can! The Tony-winning revival of My Fair Lady is in bloom all summer long at the London Coliseum. My Fair Lady follows Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl, who is transformed into a woman with the help of phonetics professor Henry Higgins. She loses her accent, but does she lose her identity? Bartlett Sher directs a My Fair Lady production which stays close to the original Pygmalion text. Amara Okereke, Harry Hadden-Paton and Vanessa Redgrave star.
London Coliseum, from 7 May.
Omigod you guys! Legally Blonde is back in London. Get ready to bend and snap with fashionista turned lawyer Elle Woods in this sensational peppy musical. Based on the film of the same name, Legally Blonde follows Elle Woods as she heads to the East Coast to pursue love. But her heart is drawn to other places and she begins to find herself once and for all.
Lucy Moss directs a new Legally Blonde production, with Six star Courtney Bowman in the lead role. Te upbeat musical kicks off the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre 2022 season, followed by 101 Dalmatians and Antigone.
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, from 13 May.
We all know the Tudor monarch Henry VIII. While he ruled over England, he also became synonymous with marriage, wedding six women during his lifetime. But what if Henry VIII’s life was explored through women’s eyes? In a similar vein to Six, watch a new female perspective of Henry VIII at Shakespeare’s Globe. In this production, queens fight for justice and women try to change the future. But it’s hard to change and instil revolution in Tudor England.
Shakespeare’s Globe, from 19 May.
Want to do some West End star-spotting in May 2022? Head to the Duke of York’s Theatre. The Academy Award-winning actress Amy Adams will make her West End debut in The Glass Menagerie. The Wingfield family continue to be at the heart of the story, but he often-performed Tennessee Williams play promises a new, fresh outlook: the role of Tom is shared between two actors.
The Glass Menagerie in London is also the first production to be staged by a new entertainment company, Second Half Productions, launched by Jeremy Herrin, Alan Stacey and Rob O'Rahilly.
Duke of York’s Theatre, from 23 May.
Step away from the bright lights of the West End for a few moments and listen to one man's inspirational story in The Lion. The Lion musical follows Ben through his troubling journey in childhood, adolesence and beyond. But even with grief comes hope, and dark moments can bring joy. The Drama Desk-winning show is at Southwark Playhouse for one month.
Southwark Playhouse, from 25 May.
The wait is finally over. ABBA are back in concert. See ABBA's avatars perform their greatest hits and their newest album Voyage in ABBA Voyage in London. The ABBA concert is the new frontier in live entertainment: avatars, live bands, a new arena, and more. ABBA Voyage concerts use the latest in motion capture technology to bring the Swedish band to life. Book ABBA Voyage Dance Floor tickets on London Theatre and be the dancing queen you've always dreamed of.
ABBA Arena, from 27 May.
Boo! The Olivier-nominated ghost story play 2:22 - A Ghost Story returns to the West End. The spooky play heads to the Criterion Theatre for a limited summer engagement. Harry Potter filmstar Tom Felton makes his West End debut in the play, which follows a couple who grow convinced there’s eerie spirits in their new home. 2:22 - A Ghost Story in London plays its third engagement in a year.
Criterion Theatre, from 7 May.
Anne-Marie Duff stars in the world premiere of The House of Shades at the Almeida Theatre this spring. Beth Steel’s latest play explores one family over five decades. Their outlooks change on life, but the beating heart of working-class Britain ultimately remains the same. Can the Webster family break away from their past and find themselves in a chaotic world?
Almeida Theatre, from 7 May.
Mahatma Gandhi’s courageous fight for Indian independence throughout the twentieth century sparked countless revolutions. Not everyone agreed with Gandhi's idea though, and Gandhi was eventually assassinated. Discover more about Nathuram Godse, the man who assassinated Gandhi, in The Father and the Assassin at the National Theatre. Playwright Anupama Chandrasekhar and director Indhu Rubasingham collaborate once more for this thrilling play.
National Theatre, from 12 May.
Why have one Roman emperor on stage when you can have two? The Lyric Hammersmith continue the theme of Roman emperors on stage with Britannicus. This time, it’s Emperor Nero who takes centre stage. He’s the new Roman emperor, but not everyone agrees with his position, especially when he grows into a tyrant. Timberlake Wertenbaker adapts and translates Jean Racine's 17th-century text.
Lyric Hammersmith, from 26 May.
Photo credit: Harry Hadden-Paton, Amara Okereke, Malcolm Sinclair, Tom Ping, Rebekah Lowings in My Fair Lady (Photo by Johan Persson)
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