Top West End shows coming in 2021
UPDATE: New shows added 16 Feb. 2021.
2020 began with lots of West End premieres, with the likes of Leopoldstadt and Pretty Woman: The Musical. But, due to a certain global pandemic, the fate of most productions scheduled for 2020 were scuppered. Although we can’t be certain when West End theatres will reopen, we’re still looking forward to a ton of theatrical treats in the near future.
We round up our top picks of West End shows coming in 2021* and listed them in order of date of opening night.
“For the first time in forever”, West End audiences will finally be treated to Disney’s Frozen, staged at a newly renovated Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Samantha Barks has already given audiences a little teaser as Elsa, belting “Let It Go” at the Royal Variety Performance but we can’t wait to escape the real world for a few hours in Arendelle. Michael Grandage’s Broadway production was nominated for three Tony Awards, including Best Musical, so we’re expecting a (snow) flurry of Oliviers here too.
Good plays come to those who wait, but the wait for David Tennant’s West End return is nearly over. Tennant will play John Halder in C. P. Taylor’s Good, considered to be one of the leading Holocaust dramas of modern times. Okay, the plot may not be the chirpiest; a German literary professor becomes swept up in Nazi ideology, only realising the societal cost of his action once it’s too late. However, it’s a perfect marriage of theatre and history, and if you’re sick of learning via online classes, Good is the best drama education you can get. Don’t just take our word for it, even director Dominic Cooke said: “it’s a fantastic bit of writing that is more pertinent and resonant now than it has ever been.”
A musical about going back in time before it’s too late seems a bit too on the nose for 2021. Nevertheless, we can’t wait for the famous DeLorean to pull into town for Back to the Future’s West End premiere. Based on the cult movies, join Marty McFly and Dr. Emmett Brown as they head to 1955, meddling with time in order to save Marty’s parents. With tracks like “The Power of Love”, as well as a book by Back to the Future screenwriters Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis, get your flux capacitors at the ready for this high-energy musical.
Adelphi Theatre, previews from 14 May 2021.
We’re all familiar with the Disney adaptation of 101 Dalmatians. Cruella de Vil steals a litter of Dalmatians for their fur, ending up with the doggie parents saving their pups. We’ll all be barking mad for this musical world premiere staged at Regent’s Park, coincidentally where Dodie Smith’s story is originally set. Combining puppetry, drama and music, we’re expecting a War Horse feel to this childhood classic.
Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is arguably one of the greatest books of all time. Now following a record-breaking Broadway production, To Kill A Mockingbird will make its highly-anticipated West End opening at the Gielgud Theatre in 2021. Currently, Rhys Ifans is billed to play Atticus Finch, the American lawyer who defends an accused rapist. Adapted by The Social Network’s Aaron Sorkin, this production is sure to go down in court as being “guilty” of becoming a theatrical great.
Gielgud Theatre, previews from 27 May 2021.
Nobody needs reminding that “times have changed.” Yes, we wish we could rewind the clock too. But, with 2021 giving us a West End revival of Anything Goes starring Megan Mullally, we’re grateful for the theatre this year will bring. The Golden Age, jolly musical is an intoxicating delight, complete with Cole Porter hits like "I Get A Kick Out of You" and "You’re the Top.” Audiences can sail on the S.S. American too, and if we can imagine we’re on holiday, then that’s a bonus too.
Barbican, previews from 5 June 2021.
West End sensation Carrie Hope Fletcher originates the title role in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s latest musical, finally receiving its world premiere in 2021. Not much is known about the synopsis, however Cinderella will play away from stereotypes, instead focusing on individuality and self-love. Andrew Lloyd Webber has teamed up with Killing Eve writer Emerald Fennell to bring the revamped princess to life, and there’s also newcomer performances to look forward to, with Ivano Turco making his West End debut as Prince Sebastian.
Gillian Lynne Theatre, previews from 14 July 2021.
“You’ll never walk alone” with Carousel tickets, set for a stunning open air revival in summer 2021. Continuing the theatre’s tradition of innovative stagings of classic musicals, fall in love with Rodgers and Hammerstein once more, and rediscover Billy Bigelow and Julie Jordan’s romance. With a creative team including Timothy Sheader and Drew McOnie, we’re expecting big things.
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, previews from 30 Jul. 2021.
Roaring its way from Sheffield to the West End, the award-winning adaptation of Life of Pi will open at the Wyndham’s. Hiran Abeysekera reprises his performance as Pi, a young Indian boy who struggles to survive alone after a shipwreck. Left with just animals for company, Pi does all he can to protect himself and his fellow creatures. If it’s not the human acting, then watch out for Finn Caldwell’s sublime puppetry, transporting audiences to the ocean.
Wyndham’s Theatre, previews from 26 Sept. 2021.
Arinze Kene steps into the shoes of Jamaica’s greatest singer for this Bob Marley jukebox musical. Dramatising Marley’s ascension to superstardom, his story will be lived out on stage, all the way from the rural Caribbean to London and beyond. A Bob Marley musical wouldn’t be complete without his groundbreaking melodies, including “Exodus”, “3 Little Birds” and “No Woman No Cry.” Clint Dyer will direct Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Story, and with this formidable creative team, we’re expecting the musical to gain worldwide recognition.
Lyric Theatre, previews from 1 Oct. 2021.
First seen at the National’s Dorfman Theatre, the Olivier Award-winning play The Ocean at the End of the Lane makes its long-awaited West End transfer. Adapted from Neil Gaiman’s best-selling fantasy novel, it’s all about youthful escapism; a man goes back in time to his 12th birthday and must escape a perilous world before it’s too late. Plunging audiences into a make-believe world, you’ll never want to leave. Take our word for it.
Duke of York’s Theatre, previews from 23 Oct. 2021.
Beverley Knight will lead The Drifters Girl company this year in a new world premiere bringing Motown to life. Knight will paly Faye Treadwell, the world’s first African-American female music manager who looked after The Drifters, a 1950s American doo-wop and soul vocal group.
Garrick Theatre, previews from 4 Nov. 2021.
Baz Luhrmann’s Academy Award-winning film Moulin Rouge is now a musical, and what a theatre spectacle it is. Nominated for 14 Tony Awards, this epic musical follows the love story of Christian and Satine, set to a soundtrack featuring snippets of over 70 songs. Casting is to be confirmed, but we just can’t wait to be welcomed into the Moulin Rouge for ourselves.
Piccadilly Theatre, performances from Autumn 2021.
*All performance dates are correct at time of publication. All performance dates are subject to change, due to changing rules regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
Photo credit: Arinze Kene in Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Story