With a wealth of exciting new plays and musicals opening in the next 6 months, 2015 looks set to be a thrilling year for West End theatre. Brand new shows, returning favourites and transfers both from Broadway and the acclaimed Chichester Festival, will light up the glittering West End this season and hope they can stick around long enough to rival the classics. With six brand new productions opening this month alone, and several of the year’s most hotly-anticipated new shows to look forward to in the coming months, here’s our guide to the New Year’s new theatre.
Having begun previews just before Christmas, the buzz about Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown has really peaked. The quirky and hilarious story – originally a film by celebrated Spanish director Pedro Almodovar – follows Pepa, a TV actress in contemporary Madrid, who tries to unpick the reasons her boyfriend left her, leading to a series of wacky chance meetings and a tangled web of relationships. Already garnering vast acclaim from critics and audiences alike, Tamsin Greig makes her musical debut in this must-see show brand new to London.
Also opening in January are a number of shows that audiences simply can’t wait to see again, including dramas, comedies and family favourites. Having made a big splash at The Hampstead Theatre, Di & Viv & Rose finally gets its much deserved West End transfer and opens at The Vaudeville Theatre – Amelia Bullmore’s sweetly funny play stars Tamzin Outhwaite, Samantha Spiro and Jenna Russell as a trio of old university friends. The Donmar Warehouse’s revival of Kevin Elyot’s seminal play My Night With Reg is also set to tickle our funny bones in the West End this January, following the ups and downs of five gay friends in mid-80s.
It’s a great month for fans of drama too as the Chichester Festival’s hit play Taken At Midnight – starring acting legend Penelope Wilton as a desperate mother who battles to liberate her lawyer son from arrest in Nazi Germany – heads to London’s Theatre Royal Haymarket for two months. Award-winning thriller The Nether also begins a 12 week run this month, following a sell-out run at The Royal Court last year; the ‘dark net’ drama follows a dogged cop into the moral maze of the virtual world. Last, but by no means least, family-friendly classic The Railway Children begins an exciting run at a purpose built theatre at London’s Kings Cross station, featuring a real steam locomotive in a revival of this popular adaptation of E Nesbit’s book.
The build-up to Beautiful: The Carole King Musical has been immense. When the London transfer was announced months ago, audiences couldn’t wait to snap up tickets – now the wait is almost, finally, over! A jukebox musical featuring all of her hit songs, the life of seventies songstress Carole King is both fascinating and inspiring; a talented and successful songwriter by her late teens, she finally conquers her shyness to step in front of the microphone and begin to perform her own songs. Music fans and theatre-lovers alike will adore this show – songs from the singer’s classic album Tapestry feature heavily, and the Broadway production picked up an incredible 7 Tony Award nominations.
Also on its way in February is the Young Vic’s acclaimed production of A View From The Bridge, transferring to the West End for a strictly limited run. This year marks 100 years since Arthur Miller’s birth, and this show will be the first of many to celebrate the life of America’s greatest playwright. This tense family drama is Miller at his best. Starring TV and film star Mark Strong in the lead role of a Brooklyn longshoreman, there’s nothing rough and ready about this critically-lauded production that’s not to be missed.
April will see the opening of Gypsy starring Imelda Staunton in the lead. Stephen Sondheim’s popular musical about the early life of entertainer Gypsy Rose Lee hasn’t been seen on London stage for forty years, but has been immortalised by its famed original runs on Broadway and in the West End, as well as a number of small screen adaptations. Staunton will take on the role of pushy stage mother Rose, an unsinkable and dogmatic woman who has been memorably portrayed by some of the biggest names in showbiz; Ethel Merman originated the role on Broadway before Angela Lansbury played her in the West End in 1973, and Bette Midler won a Golden Globe for the TV version made in 1993. This production, transferring from Chichester where it gained rave reviews, has set London abuzz ever since it was announced in December and the initial six-month run is bound to be a vast a success.
Journalists and commentators are all expecting May to be a fascinating and dramatic month for British politics, with the tightest General Election in a generation on the cards. Fans of British politics on stage will no doubt be looking forward to the return of acclaimed play The Audience too; the production was a sell-out in 2012 with Helen Mirren as The Queen, and this time around stars BAFTA-winning actress Kristen Scott-Thomas in the lead role. Peter Morgan’s scintillating play peers into The Queen’s relationships with 50 years of Prime Ministers and, ably directed by star theatre and film director Stephen Daldry, this promises to be one show that theatre-lovers and history buffs alike won’t soon forget.
May’s other big theatre show is the brand new musical adaptation of hit British film Bend It Like Beckham. The production – helmed by the film’s director Gurinder Chadha – promises to recapture the laugh-out-loud fun of the culture clash comedy released in 2002. The much-loved story of Jess, a young Sikh woman defying her family’s conservative background to play the beautiful game, is certain to conquer a whole new audience in London’s West End.
Whatever you choose to see this season, our great value theatre and hotel packages offer the perfect opportunity to discover something new. With a whole host of exciting new shows coming up, don’t miss our London theatre breaks this spring!
Heading to the West End this year? What will you see? Let us know in the comments section below!