Top London Theatre Openings Winter 2016
With just six weeks to go until Christmas is upon us once again, London's theatreland shows no signs of slowing down, with a whole collection of brand new shows lining up to open in the final two months of the year. Whether you're looking for a thrilling new play, a hot new musical or some pure theatrical escapism, we bring together our Top 10 London Theatre openings from now until the end of 2016.
Next week we'll be looking at Christmas speciality shows that will help you get in the holiday mood, but for now read on to see which openings should certainly be on your radar...
(17 November, already previewing)
For those looking for some much needed comic relief, Cameron Mackintosh's revival of the classic British musical transfers to the West End following a successful season at Chichester's Festival Theatre. Charlie Stemp shines in the lead role of Arthur Kipps, igniting the stage with his sheer presence and energy that is sure to bring a smile to everyone's face. Classic tunes such as "If The Rain's Got to Fall" and "Flash Bang Wallop" sit alongside an original score by the masters of British musical theatre Stiles and Drewe, creating a thoroughly original and exciting new musical theatre production.
See this if: You're looking for pure escapism and want to sit back, relax and enjoy a fantastic musical theatre classic.
(24 November, previews from 17 Nov)
British playwright Lucy Kirkwood returns to the Royal Court with her first new work since her outstanding Chimerica which went on to win both the Evening Standard Award for Best Play and the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play. Starring Royal Court regulars Francesca Annis, Ron Cook and Deborah Findlay this bold new play is directed by James Macdonald and promises to be a thought provoking and challenging new piece. Two retired nuclear scientists in an isolated cottage by the sea as the world around them crumbles. Together they are going to live forever on yogurt and yoga, until an old friend arrives with a frightening request...
See this if: You're a fan of new writing and want to be ahead of the curve of the Royal Court's next hit play.
(25 November, previews from 15 November)
Mark Rylance fans rejoice! The recent Oscar winner returns to the West End to star in the 'play what he wrote' direct from a successful season in New York. Drawn from the words of Lewis Jenkins, Nice Fish is directed by Rylance's wife Claire van Kampen and has been described as an "icy absurdist drama" and likened to a "folksy Waiting for Godot." Set on a frozen lake at the end of a long Minnesota winter it follows two men drilling holes whilst hoping to find some of the last fish of the season. Using extracts of Jenkins' prose poems it contemplates some of life's biggest questions. Raye Birk, Kayli Carter, Bob Davis and Jim Lichtscheidl join Rylance in this powerful new drama that's even offering free tickets to those who turn up at the venue dressed in full fisherman garb.
See this if: You're a Rylance fan who is always keen to consider life's biggest questions.
(30 November, previews from 19 November)
If the politics of 2016 hasn't been enough to give you a taste of Westminster madness then This House will help you feel right at home in the House of Commons. Following two sell-out seasons at the National Theatre and a run at Chichester Festival Theatre, James Graham’s critically acclaimed political drama transfers to the Garrick Theatre this November. Set in the engine rooms of Westminster in 1974, the UK faces economic crisis and a hung parliament where votes are lost on one or two MPs. The Whips control government as the play strips politics down to the practical realities of those behind the scenes, greasing the wheels ahead of every major decision. Audiences can even choose to sit on bench seats and vote on issues to feel even closer to the political action.
See this if: You've been encouraged by the 2016 political landscape and want to look back at history to an equally fraught climate in the House of Commons.
(1 December, previews from 14 November)
American Playwright Sam Shepard's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Buried Child comes to London's West End following a run on Broadway. Ed Harris will make his West End debut alongside Amy Madigan, Jeremy Irvine, Charlotte Hope, Jack Fortune, Barnaby Kay and Gary Shelford in this exciting production by The New Group, directed by Scott Elliott. Set in 1979 rural America as it reels from a recession and political unrest this drama casts a brutal light on disenfranchised Americans. Described as a dark, macabre and painfully funny family drama it remains as relevant now as it was during its first run almost 40 years ago, and strikes a new chord following the shock election of Donald Trump to President. A wildly poetic and cuttingly funny take on the American family drama will speak profoundly to audiences and provides quite a different theatrical option this Christmas.
See this if: You want to see one of America's greatest living playwrights in an exciting and challenging production.
(6 December, previews from 25 November)
The Young Vic present a welcome revival of Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman classic comedy adapted by Christopher Hart. Harry Enfield makes his stage debut which follows three actors from a struggling vaudeville troupe travel who West to try their luck in 1930s Hollywood. As they react to the changing landscape of the film industry, a chance meeting with a film journalist gives them an idea: create a school for actresses to help them adapt to ‘talkies’. When their scheme takes off they are plunged into the frenetic world of a Hollywood studio, full of glitz and glamour – but as their responsibilities escalate, will the lustre last?
See this if: You're a fan of this exciting London venue who have a distinct way of reinventing popular classics for contemporary audiences.
(7 December, previews from 25 November)
The classic Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock musical returns to London in a sparkling new production at the the Menier Chocolate Factory. One of the most celebrated musicals of the 1960s, She Loves Me is the perfect musical comedy for Christmas audiences. Based on the the Hungarian play that was also the basis for the film 'You've Got Mail', She Loves Me follows shopworkers Amalia and George who are secretly writing to each other as part of a lonely hearts club. Little do they know that they are each other's pen pal, and as they squabble in the office they begin to fall in love despite their reservations. A fantastic score, cracking cast and a truly intimate production, this is one classic revival you'll not want to miss.
See this if: You're a fan of traditional musical comedy and want to sit back and enjoy a real chocolate box of a show.
(13 December, previews from 8 December)
Before there was Hamilton, there was RENT. Jonathan Larson's explosive rock musical originally opened off-Broadway in New York in 1996 and changed the face of musical theatre for the following two decades. This brand new production lands in London as part of an extensive UK tour and reinvents the show for a new generation. A gritty urban version of Puccini's La boheme, RENT includes classic rock musical theatre numbers such as "Take Me Or Leave Me", "Seasons of Love", "Tango Maureen" and "One Song Glory", brought to life by a young and vibrant cast. This new production is directed by Bruce Guthrie and features choreography by Lee Proud. Grab your chance to see this modern classic in the intimate surroundings of the St James Theatre this Christmas.
See this if: You're a self-confessed Renthead, or have yet been converted to the power of the revolution and want to release your inner bohemian.
(14 December, previews from 19 November)
Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated new musical of 2016, Dreamgirls finally opens in London 35 years after the original Broadway production. Acclaimed musical theatre director Casey Nicholaw reinvents this exciting show for a West End audience, featuring Glee star Amber Riley in the role of Effie White. With a pulsating pop-rock score, powerful story and loveable characters, Dreamgirls is a musical like no other. With songs such as "One Night Only" and the incredible anthem "And I'm Telling You (I'm Not Going)" this is a perfect musical treat for fans of the film as well as those coming to the musical for the very first time.
See this if: You've waited all this time to finally see this incredible story live on stage.
Matthew Bourne's acclaimed New Adventures company premiere their latest work based on the film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger along with the fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen. With a score by Bernard Herrmann The Red Shoes is a tale of obsession, possession and one girl's dream to be the greatest dancer in the world. Victoria Page lives to dance but her ambitions become a battleground between the two men who inspire her passion. Ashley Shaw will create the role of Victoria Page, the role immortalised on screen by Moira Shearer with an exciting company of dancers who bring this exciting new dance production to life.
See this if: You're a fan of beautiful stories reinvented by one of the world's most exciting dance companies.