Top 10 theatre shows to see in London in 2018
Another year down, another bumper year of great theatre in London to look forward to in 2018. From the return of smash-hit musicals like Bat Out of Hell, hugely-anticipated shows like the upcoming Tina Turner musical, new plays like James Graham’s latest offering (MORE James Graham!), or revivals of classics, it promises to be another great year. Here are our picks in the West End so far.
Tina Turner’s story is pretty incredible. From personal struggles in the early years to becoming one of the biggest-selling recording artists of all-time. Now, she’s come out of retirement to work with Mamma Mia director Phyllida Lloyd and writer Katori Hall to put together the stage musical which is bound to include hits like “Proud Mary”, “What’s Love Got to Do With It” and “We Don’t Need Another Hero”. This is bound to be one of the theatre events of next year, not to be missed.
Baz Luhrmann wrote Strictly Ballroom as the first in his Red Curtain Trilogy, which also included Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet. It’s about a talented dancer, Scott, whose new moves violate strict competition rules, and his mission to overthrow the system with dance partner Fran. The musical received its British premiere at West Yorkshire Playhouse last year, directed and choreographed by Olivier Award-winner Drew McOnie. Now, it hits the West End with a cast that features Zizi Strallen and Jonny Labey as well as an appearance from Will Young.
Stephen Sondheim’s Follies was probably the most anticipated and acclaimed musical of 2017, and you can expect similar noise about his musical Company in 2018. The show is about singleton Bobbie who can’t commit to a steady relationship, and whose best friends are five married couples. For the first time, Sondheim has given director Marianne Elliot permission to gender-swap Bobby to Bobbie, a woman played by the delightful Rosalie Craig. Not just that, but Certified Broadway Legend Patti LuPone also stars as Joanne. This is an essential production for any musical theatre fan.
Mike Bartlett’s drama Doctor Foster is one of the TV success stories of the last few years, and now its star is returning to the London stage. Suranne Jones stars in Frozen - no, not the Disney musical – Bryony Lavery’s play about a mother’s search for her 10-year-old daughter. Jones will be joined by Jason Watkins (Simon Harwood in W1A). If you like harrowing drama (and if you liked Doctor Foster, you probably do), then this is a play for you.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning play Long Day's Journey Into Night comes to the West End following a run of Richard Eyre’s production in Bristol last year. Starring Lesley Manville and Jeremy Irons, it is set over one summer’s night in Connecticut as the Tyrone family deal with family problems, declining health and the demons from their past. It’s all the more interesting for the fact that Eugene O’Neill’s play is partly autobiographical and was published posthumously, giving a real insight into his life.
Harold Pinter at the Harold Pinter! The Nobel Prize winner’s play is set in a rundown seaside boarding house where a birthday party takes a sinister turn with the arrival of two strangers. Zoe Wanamaker, Stephen Mangan and Toby Jones lead the cast, with Peter Wight (Hamlet) and Pearl Mackie (Doctor Who). Producers will be hoping for more success than when the play premiered in the 1950s; the show closed after just eight performances!
Chicago turns 21 in 2018, and it’s celebrating in style by returning to London at the Phoenix Theatre. Join Velma and Roxie as they hit the headlines from inside prison as they’re put on trial for murder. We don’t yet know casting for the show, but in the past London has welcomed the likes of America Ferrera, Brooke Shields, Jill Halfpenny, Denise Van Outen David Hasselhoff and John Barrowman, so we’re hopeful we can expect some star casting from this show.
2017 was the year of the James Graham Play. The year began with This House running at the Garrick, Ink premiered at the Almeida and was promptly ushered into the West End, and Labour of Love went straight into the Noel Coward down the road. His newest work, Quiz, delves into our love of the British quiz show, and the Charles Ingram cheating scandal on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? After a mightily successful run in Chichester, it’s opening in the West End.
Michael Grandage has lined-up two big plays in the West End next year. John Logan’s Red, starring Alfred Molina and Alfred Enoch, is about Mark Rothko who is tasked with painting new murals for an exclusive Four Seasons restaurant in New York. Aidan Turner also stars in The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Martin McDonagh’s violent play about a member of an IRA splinter group whose methods are a bit too much for the terrorist organisation.
Bat is back! After rocking up at the London Coliseum in the summer, fans were delighted when the show announced it would be returning to London in 2018. You’ll have another chance to visit Obsidian and experience songs from Meat Loaf’s classic albums like “I Would Do Anything For Love”, “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”, “All Revved Up With No Place to Go” and – of course - “Bat Out of Hell”. If you missed out last time, there’s no excuse to let this slip you by in 2018.
Tina - The Tina Turner Musical