Top 10 London theatre shows opening this August
There may be plenty going on up in Scotland as Edinburgh's festivals get underway, but that doesn't mean there isn't plenty to get excited about here in London this month. Our top picks for August include an ALW musical taken on by a visionary director, the return of a cult hero to the stage, and a celeb-stuffed concert of a West End favourite.
Hot on the heels of his Harold Pinter season in the West End, Jamie Lloyd turns his attention to musicals as he puts his spin on Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Evita for this year’s summer musical offering at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. It will mean there are five ALW musicals running in the West End simultaneously (and three Webber-Rice collaborations at that with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Jesus Christ Superstar having recently opened). It stars Samantha Pauly in the lead role of Eva Peron.
From 2nd August. Evita tickets available now.
Fleabag is back, one last time. Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s phenomenon hits the West End in its original form for one final run out following the colossal success of the BBC TV adaptation. The one-hour, one-woman show which debuted in Edinburgh in 2013 sees the character luridly discuss her family, her lovers and her own life in what as the Killing Eve (and soon to be James Bond) writer’s show.
From 20th August.
The original production, and with it the beloved revolve, closed at the Queen’s Theatre in July, as the Master of the House Cameron Mackintosh refurbishes the venue which will reopen as the Sondheim Theatre in December. But in the meantime, there’s a dreamy treat happening just down the road as the stars come out for a special concert version of the show. Michael Ball, Alfie Boe, Matt Lucas, Carrie Hope Fletcher and John Owen-Jones all return to the musical for what will prove to be a spectacular celebration of this West End fixture.
From 10th August.
More open-air experiences to be had at the Actor’s Church as the company’s second production of the summer opens, following Hamlet earlier in the year. If you haven’t seen a production at St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden yet, this could be a perfect introduction as Victor Hugo’s character takes over the lush gardens overlooked by the grand church.
From 1st August. The Hunchback of Notre Dame tickets are available now.
Once on this Island
Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens’ Broadway musical returns to London, following its recent New York revival, at Southwark Playhouse. Based on the 1985 novel My Love, My Love; or, The Peasant Girl by Rosa Guy, the musical won the 1995 Olivier Award for best new musical, which starred Sharon D Clarke.
From 9th August.
Robert Icke’s final production at the Almeida as associate director will be his freely adapted version of Arthur Schnitzler’s Professor Bernhardi, titled The Doctor. Starring Juliet Stevenson – who appeared in his productions of Mary Stuart and Hamlet, and Ria Zmitrowicz, the play is about a Jewish doctor treating a girl who is dying of sepsis following an abortion and was banned in Austria following its publication. We’re excited to see what parting gift Icke delivers to the North London venue.
From 10th August.
Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah presented this piece, based on Elba’s mi Mandela album he curated after starring as the South African in a film, at Manchester International Festival earlier this film. While it has had its controversies – who writers claim they were written out of the project in an explosive blog post; claims Elba and Kwei-Armah refute – it transfers down to London at the Young Vic. The play, which follows one man’s journey to the heart of South Africa, stars Alfred Enoch (Red, Wyndham’s Theatre) and Sinéad Cusack.
Opens 1st August.
Michael John LaChiusa musical is based on the life of Annie Edson Taylor, a schoolteacher who became the first person to survive a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel. The show premiered Off-Broadway in 2011, and was first seen in London at the Jack Studio Theatre in April 2019 directed by Dom O’Hanlon (a former editor of this very website!). His production transfers to the Charing Cross Theatre.
From 15th August. Queen of the Mist tickets are available now.
The Secret River
Adapted from Kate Grenville’s novel, Neil Armfield’s production premiered in Australia in 2013, but is set to get its UK premiere at Edinburgh International Festival before opening at the Nash later this month. It tells the story of William Thornhill, a convict who arrives in New South Wales from London. He earns a pardon and sets about claiming a place to call his own but soon finds out about the land’s true owners, the Dharug people.
From 22nd August.
Ben Jonson’s 17th-century comedy is revived at Shakespeare’s Globe, which will see the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse transformed to celebrate contemporary London. The five-act play is set around the summer fair which took place every August from 1133 to 1855, and takes a snapshot of eclectic London life amongst the crowds.
From 23rd August.