Top West End musicals to see this summer
This essential list features all the musicals, from Grease to Groundhog Day, that are perfect for a summer trip to the West End, whatever the weather.
Summer in London means one thing: it's musicals season! Sure, we have fantastic musical theatre in the capital all year round, but the sunnier months always seem to be a particularly exciting time for big song-and-dance shows – ideal for filling the school holidays with family trips to spectacular productions.
You’ll find plenty of blockbuster West End entertainment this summer, thanks to the likes of Mrs. Doubtfire, 42nd Street and The Wizard of Oz. Or, if you prefer your musicals outdoors, you’re in luck there too, as Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre gets set for La Cage aux Folles. If a rousing rendition of “I Am What I Am” isn’t pure summer vibes, then what is?
Follow our guide to the best summer musicals in London that you can book for now, and get ready for a hot, hot, hot season of theatre.
Yes, we really can’t start anywhere else. Regent’s Park is London’s most magical outdoor theatre venue and a must-visit for all summer theatregoers.
If that’s not enough, the venue is reviving Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein’s groundbreaking queer musical La Cage aux Folles. Forty years on from its Broadway debut, this is a celebration of family, love and self-acceptance. It promises to be a wonderfully joyful summer outing.
Book La Cage aux Folles tickets on London Theatre.
There are similar themes at play in the stage musical version of the film comedy favourite Mrs. Doubtfire that starred Robin Williams.
Now, Gabriel Vick plays Daniel, the feckless father who, by dressing up as the titular Scottish nanny, learns to be a better father, partner, and man. But there’s also plenty of slapstick fun and great songs along the way — the perfect summer family fare.
Book Mrs. Doubtfire tickets on London Theatre.
Grease is the word once again as the beloved musical hand-jives its way back into the West End. It’s another chance to relive the teenage romance between Danny and Sandy – and to hang out with the coolest gangs in school, Rydell High’s Burger Palace Boys and Pink Ladies.
Hopelessly devoted guest stars Louise Redknapp, Jason Donovan, and Peter Andre add to the summer lovin’ fun.
Book Grease tickets on London Theatre.
Michael Ball returns to the show that launched his career: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s steamy tale of bed-hopping bohemians in post-war France, now with a reworked book and gorgeous new orchestrations (and yes, Ball does reprise his “Love Changes Everything”).
The talented cast also features Laura Pitt-Pulford, Jamie Bogyo, and opera star Danielle de Niese, bringing you soaring songs and sun-kissed romance.
Book Aspects of Love tickets on London Theatre.
When it comes to summertime fun, you can’t beat George Gershwin. Susan Stroman’s barnstorming revival of Crazy for You is transferring from Chichester to the West End, bringing with it an incredible tap-dancing cast led by the fleet-footed Charlie Stemp.
They’ll be performing glorious numbers like “Slap That Bass,” “I Got Rhythm,” and “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Nice work if you can get it!
Book Crazy For You tickets on London Theatre.
Usher is a Black queer man writing a musical about a Black queer man called, well, A Strange Loop! This genre-bending invention is what you can expect in Michael R Jackson’s Tony and Pulitzer-winning show, making its U.K. premiere at the Barbican.
Kyle Ramar Freeman, who understudied Usher on Broadway, now leads the company of what’s sure to be this summer’s most talked-about new musical.
Book A Strange Loop tickets on London Theatre.
Follow the Yellow Brick Road to this star-studded production of The Wizard of Oz, featuring songs from the original beloved movie musical, plus fantastic additions by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.
Flying over the rainbow in this family summer musical are Georgina Onuorah, Jason Manford, Gary Wilmot, and Dianne Pilkington. There’s no place like home… except possibly the London Palladium!
Book The Wizard of Oz tickets on London Theatre.
Don’t stop me now, I’m having a good time! Queen fans rejoice: We Will Rock You is back in the West End for the summer season, mixing an epic dystopian tale with all-time great tunes.
Even better: the show’s co-creator Ben Elton joins the cast to belt out the likes of “We Are The Champions,” “Killer Queen,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and, of course, “We Will Rock You.”
Book We Will Rock You tickets on London Theatre.
Get ready for the incredible story of The Temptations, who went from the streets of Detroit to become Motown megastars – although not without some riveting drama along the way.
This Broadway hit has grooved its way into the West End, and features an electrifying company doing full justice to an extraordinary back catalogue: think “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone,” “Just My Imagination,” and “My Girl.” It’s silky-smooth summer entertainment.
Book Ain't Too Proud tickets on London Theatre.
He’s back… again! Andy Karl reprises his Olivier-winning lead role in Tim Minchin and Danny Rubin’s acclaimed 2016 stage musical version of the Bill Murray movie, which makes a hugely anticipated return to the Old Vic.
Karl plays cynical weatherman Phil Connors, who gets trapped in a time loop during the Groundhog Day festivities in the small town of Punxsutawney. Let’s hope it’s less chilly here this summer – but this heartwarming tale is always welcome.
Book Groundhog Day tickets on London Theatre.
Next to Normal
Another thought-provoking entry in the summer musicals diary is Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s Pulitzer-winning Broadway show Next to Normal. It follows a woman with bipolar disorder and tackles big issues like grief, depression, and addiction.
The show is making its U.K. premiere at the Donmar Warehouse, starring Caissie Levy (the original onstage Elsa in Frozen and Molly in Ghost) and Trevor Dion Nicholas (Hamilton, Bonnie & Clyde, and Aladdin in the West End).
Fancy a holiday to the Big Apple this summer? Well, you can get the next best thing – plus amazing musical performances from the likes of Marisha Wallace – at the fabulously immersive Guys & Dolls at the Bridge Theatre.
Nicholas Hytner’s production of Frank Loesser’s wonderful musical comedy plunges you into the streets of New York – from the clubs and diners to the sewers where the gamblers bet big. Lady luck is definitely smiling on this production.
Book Guys & Dolls tickets on London Theatre.
You can travel to Vienna, where Graham Greene’s enthralling spy thriller plays out. That tale is now a new musical by Christopher Hampton, George Fenton, and Don Black, directed by Trevor Nunn.
Follow Holly Martins as he prepares to meet a friend – only to find he’s been killed in a car accident. Who’s telling the truth, and who is the mysterious third man? If you like your summer shows with plenty of tension, this one is for you.
Book The Third Man tickets on London Theatre.
There’s certainly no shortage of jaw-dropping news stories for satirists to choose from – which makes it the perfect time for this puppet-based topical comedy to hit the West End.
Watch big names from politics, royalty, and Hollywood (think Vladimir Putin, Ant and Dec, Elon Musk, and Meghan Markle) get the Spitting Image treatment in Al Murray, Matt Forde, and Sean Foley’s side-splitting show: summer comedy at its best.
Book Idiots Assemble: Spitting Image The Musical tickets on London Theatre.
Last but definitely not least, this 2023 summer theatre season also features the ultimate backstage musical: the glorious 42nd Street. Come and meet those dancing feet!
Small-town ingenue Peggy Sawyer is dying to get into the Broadway chorus, while diva Dorothy Brock wants to prove she still has it. Ruthie Henshall, Adam Garcia, Nicole-Lily Baisden, and Les Dennis sing and tap dance their way through glorious numbers, which make for irresistible summer fun.
Book 42nd Street tickets on London Theatre.
Photo credit: The Wizard of Oz. (Photo courtesy of production)
Originally published on