Top West End theatre to see in August
Escape the heat and see some amazing theatre by taking a trip to the West End this summer — find out the best shows to see in London in August 2023.
As we soak up the last of the summer sun (and, this being Britain, the occasional shower), much of the theatre world decamps to Edinburgh for the annual festival. However, there’s still plenty of action in London this August, with some big openings coming your way.
They include the highly anticipated U.K. premiere of the Tony and Pulitzer-winning musical Next to Normal, which finally crosses the pond and plays at the Donmar Warehouse. A starry Andrew Lloyd Webber concert, Love Never Dies, also hits the stage with a big-name cast.
Plus there’s Shakespearean comedy at the Globe with As You Like It, dance drama from Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet, and a special interactive experience for children at Regent’s Park, Dinosaur World Live.
As You Like It, Shakespeare’s Globe
Make the most of the outdoor theatre season while you can. This August, Shakespeare's Globe is offering bags of summer fun with Shakespeare’s beloved comedy As You Like It, which sees disguises, plots, and romantic misunderstandings play out in the idyllic Forest of Arden.
Ellen McDougal, who previously directed Othello at the venue’s Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, makes her Globe debut with this touching play. The cast includes Nina Bowers as Rosalind, Isabel Adomakoh Young as Orlando, Tessa Parr as Touchstone, and Alex Austin as Jacques.
Book As You Like It tickets on London Theatre.
The Way Old Friends Do, Criterion Theatre
This heartwarming comedy centres around two school friends who accidentally reunite on Grindr and decide to become an ABBA tribute act – in drag. They begin performing on the am-dram circuit, while facing other life challenges, like changes in a long-term relationship, IVF, and the struggle for acceptance.
Playwright Ian Hallard also performs in the show, alongside Anton Tweedale, Donna Berlin, Sara Crowe, Rose Shalloo, and Andrew Horton – plus there are voice cameos from Miriam Margolyes and Paul O’Grady. Mark Gatiss directs. Dig out your shiniest platform boots and join these dancing queens!
Book The Way Old Friends Do tickets on London Theatre.
Love Never Dies in Concert, Theatre Royal Drury Lane
The Phantom returns in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to his enduring musical. Love Never Dies sees Christine invited to perform for Oscar Hammerstein I on Coney Island. She travels there with husband Raoul and son Gustave – only to find that it’s another plot by her former mentor, the Phantom of the Opera.
Following its 2010 premiere and multiple productions worldwide, a new concert version comes to the West End, starring Norm Lewis (the first Black actor to play the Phantom on Broadway) and Celinde Schoenmaker (currently starring in Guys & Dolls and a previous West End Christine).
Book Love Never Dies in Concert tickets on London Theatre.
Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet, Sadler’s Wells
Matthew Bourne gives new life to Shakespeare's indelible tale of star-crossed lovers in this stirring contemporary dance work. He previously thrilled audiences with his fresh takes on Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, The Red Shoes and more. His Romeo and Juliet premiered in 2019 and now returns to Sadler’s Wells.
Bourne moves the action to a gender-segregated institution, most likely a secure psychiatric hospital or prison, where Romeo and Juliet are inmates. This riveting dance drama is a potent look at power structures, mental health, obsessive desire, and the gulf between generations, all fuelled by Bourne’s expressive movement.
Book Romeo and Juliet tickets on London Theatre.
The Actors’ Church
This church in Covent Garden, in the heart of the West End, is the resting place for luminaries like Charlie Chaplin, Vivien Leigh, Ivor Novello, and Noel Coward. The garden is also a site for innovative outdoor productions – and this August, there are several to choose from, all best enjoyed with a picnic!
First up is a dramatisation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Can Lizzy Bennet and Mr. Darcy finally overcome their differences? Next, it’s another famous literary couple: Odysseus and Penelope, reunited after decades apart, in an adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey.
Or you can enter the Roaring Twenties with a glamorous staging of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby – bring your own bootlegged liquor. Last but not least, it’s the delightfully family-friendly Doctor Dolittle, bringing a menagerie of animals to life via creative puppetry.
Book Pride and Prejudice tickets on London Theatre.
Book The Odyssey tickets on London Theatre.
Book The Great Gatsby tickets on London Theatre.
Book Doctor Dolittle tickets on London Theatre.
Dinosaur World Live, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
There’s family fun to be found at Regent’s Park this August, where kids can not only watch a show but become part of it. That’s thanks to the return of the ever-popular Dinosaur World Live, back for another roarsome run in this beautiful park setting – bigger and more exciting than ever.
This Jurassic adventure is interactive: Children in the audience will encounter prehistoric creatures like the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops, Microraptor, and Segnosaurus (all in massive puppet form). They can even help feed and groom the dinosaurs and stick around for a post-show meet-and-greet.
Book Dinosaur World Live tickets on London Theatre.
The Garden of Words, Park Theatre
Whole Hog Theatre brings Makoto Shinkai’s acclaimed anime film and serial novels to the stage. The beautiful story follows a woman and a teenager who meet in a garden in Tokyo and form a surprising bond – a lifeline for two lonely souls in a technology-dominated world.
This world-premiere Anglo-Japanese collaboration follows the spectacular hit adaptation of My Neighbour Totoro, which transfers to the West End this autumn. Susan Momoko Hingley and Alexandra Rutter have adapted The Garden of Words, and the production stars Hiroki Berrecloth and Aki Nakagawa.
Book The Garden of Words tickets on London Theatre.
Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding, The Wonderville
Fancy not just a show but also a three-course meal and a party? Then accept your invitation to Tony and Tina’s wedding. The long-running Off-Broadway show now walks down the aisle at central London’s cabaret, magic and comedy venue The Wonderville.
This traditional Italian American wedding is a wild ride with plenty of immersive elements. That includes a welcome glass of prosecco, an Italian feast (think nana’s lasagne, garlic bread, and tiramisu), a big family celebration, and, of course, dancing. Say “I do” to this unique theatrical experience and join the conga line.
Book Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding tickets on London Theatre.
Next to Normal, Donmar Warehouse
Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s extraordinary rock musical premiered back in 2008, and its Broadway production went on to win three Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Now, finally, London audiences get to see what the fuss is all about when the show makes its U.K. premiere at the Donmar Warehouse.
The story revolves around a suburban mother grappling with bipolar disease, and deals with big subjects like psychiatric practice, addiction, grief, depression, and more. The British production stars Caissie Levy (the original Elsa in Frozen on Broadway), Trevor Dion Nicholas (Aladdin, Hamilton), Jamie Parker (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), and Eleanor Worthington Cox (The Secret Life of Bees).
Check back for information on Next to Normal tickets on London Theatre.
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