With a whole host of fantastic musicals premièring this autumn, there’s no better time to visit London’s West End for a theatre break. Not sure what to see? Here’s my pick of the best new and returning shows to look out for this season.
Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s popular musical returns to the London stage this autumn for a short run of just 55 performances. This production, featuring critically-acclaimed performances from Portuguese star Madalena Alberto and pop star Marti Pellow in the lead roles, has been incredibly well received around the country as a touring show. An endearing show with a killer soundtrack, this production must close on the 1st November and would be easy to miss – my advice: don’t!
Made in Dagenham
Without a doubt the most hotly-anticipated new musical this year, Made in Dagenham stars Gemma Arterton as a factory worker determined to campaign for equal pay for her co-workers at Ford’s Dagenham plant. Set in 1968, this inspiring musical is based on the popular 2010 film of the same name; expect the production to have a gorgeous retro look, a zinging script (adapted by prolific stage writer Richard Bean) and a wonderful score penned by BAFTA-winning composer David Arnold.
One reason to be very excited about Memphis is Beverley Knight; after winning over critics and audiences alike in The Bodyguard, the soul singer turned West End star is set to return to the London stage in this multiple Tony-winning show. The story of a Memphis DJ who falls for an African American singer during the 1950’s, the plot of the show is a rollercoaster ride; his determination to play her music on the radio sees her star rise and his slowly fall.
One of the more unique and irreverent shows to re-appear in the West End this year, Urinetown is back and is as bitingly funny as ever. Set in a future where a devastating water shortage has forced leaders to impose a ban on private toilets, everyone must pay a premium at the public facilities, until a revolution rises up to take on the big corporations. This satirical show about the corruption of power is not only very funny, it’s an accomplished musical in its own right, nominated for ten Tony Awards on its first Broadway run in 2001. Highly original, Urinetown is the perfect choice for a theatre break with a difference.
The Scottsboro Boys
Most famous for being the final show created by legendary composing team Kander and Ebb (Chicago, Cabaret) and for its powerful true story of racial prejudice and injustice in segregation-era America. The nine Scottsboro Boys are repeatedly put on trial for a crime that they didn’t commit, and mount a spirited defence that won’t save them from prison, but does win the hearts and minds of people across the country. Directed by Tony-winner Susan Stroman (The Producers) and a smash on Broadway, expect a high-energy performance that’s simply unforgettable.
A wonderful treat for the run up to the festive season, White Christmas will open in early November. Based on the timeless Bing Crosby movie-musical, this uplifting story sees two ex-Army pals rally to help out their old Commander when his ski lodge is threatened with closure. Starring ex-Strictly pals Tom Chambers and Aled Jones, the real highlight of the show is its gorgeous and classic musical numbers, including Let Yourself Go, Blue Skies, Sisters and, of course, White Christmas.
Another wonderful wintertime treat is the return of CATS to the London stage. Seen by over 50 million people across the globe and translated into 20 different languages, CATS is a world-conquering show – the winner of both the Olivier Award and Tony Award for Best Musical, it is loved by critics and audiences alike. A must-see for theatre-lovers, the show is directed by theatre legend Sir Trevor Nunn and features the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Taking to the stage at the stunning London Palladium, the highlight of the night is bound to be the most famous musical number of all time – ‘Memory’.
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Opening in December, the musical adaptation of Pedro Almodovar’s classic, Oscar-nominated film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is certain to be popular. Starring Olivier-winning Stage and TV actress Tamsin Greig in her first role in a musical, the show centres around TV actress Pepa as she sets out to discover why her boyfriend leaves her under a cloud of mystery. With all the fizz and fun of an Almodovar film, this musical is not to be missed by fans of the cult Spanish director or West End theatre-lovers.
Off on one of our theatre breaks this Autumn-Winter? Let us know what you’re off to see in the comments section below!