Curtain up: the top London theatre shows to book in 2023 from Groundhog Day to Cheryl in 2:22

 (ES)
(ES)

A Streetcar Named Desire, Almeida

Rebecca Frecknall’s production, starring Paul Mescal as Stanley Kowalski, was due to open last month until Lydia Wilson had to withdraw due to health reasons. The Olivier-winning Patsy Ferran has now stepped in to play Blanche DuBois in what should be a thrilling production.

January 12 to February 4; almeida.co.uk

The Unfriend, Criterion Theatre

From left, Amanda Abbington, Frances Barber and Reece Shearsmith (Manuel Harlan)
From left, Amanda Abbington, Frances Barber and Reece Shearsmith (Manuel Harlan)

Steven Moffat’s comedy, about the pitfalls of making friends – or in this case a particular friend – on holiday, transfers from Chichester Festival Theatre. Directed by Mark Gatiss, the show stars Reece Shearsmith, Amanda Abbington and Frances Barber.

January 19 to April 16; buy tickets here

Noises Off, Phoenix Theatre

Michael Frayn’s great farce returns to London with Felicity Kendall, Tracey Ann Oberman and Matthew Kelly. Expect pratfalls and laughs a plenty.

January 25 to March 11; buy tickets here

Sound of the Underground, Royal Court Downstairs

Travis Alabanza (Niall McDiarmid)
Travis Alabanza (Niall McDiarmid)

The new show from Travis Alabanza is about legends of the London queer club scene. Alabanza’s first play for the Court is co-created and directed by Debbie Hannan.

January 25 to February 25; buy tickets here

Saint Jude, 100 Petty France

This site-specific, immersive show in a government building uses AI technology to take the audience on a journey “into someone else’s mind”. Created by the ever-exciting theatre company Swamp Motel.

January 26 to March 11; saintjude.ai

Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons, Harold Pinter Theatre

A major West End revival of Sam Steiner’s fringe favourite about a world where words are limited. There’s sure to be huge interest in this show given the stellar cast of Aidan Turner and Jenna Coleman. Josie Rourke directs.

January 31 to March 18; buy tickets here

2:22 - A Ghost Story, Lyric Theatre

Cheryl is taking over from Laura Whitmore in 2:22 (Supplied)
Cheryl is taking over from Laura Whitmore in 2:22 (Supplied)

There’s a new venue for the supernatural hit, and a new star incoming – who will no doubt bring in coverage well beyond the arts press. Cheryl (formerly Cheryl Tweedy, now mononymous) follows Lily Allen and Laura Whitmore in taking up the role of Jenny.

February 1 and booking to April 23; buy tickets here

Titus Andronicus, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Shakespeare’s bloody revenge tragedy is performed at the Globe’s indoor space for the first time, directed by Jude Christian. It surely can’t match up to the last staging in the venue’s outdoor space, where the production was so visceral, scores of audience members (and one critic) passed out.

February 1 to April 15; buy tickets here

The Lehman Trilogy, Gillian Lynne Theatre

From left, Hadley Fraser, Michael Balogun and Nigel Lindsay in rehearsals for The Lehman Trilogy (Photo by Mark Douet)
From left, Hadley Fraser, Michael Balogun and Nigel Lindsay in rehearsals for The Lehman Trilogy (Photo by Mark Douet)

The National Theatre production returns after enjoying success on Broadway. The new cast comprises Michael Balogun, Hadley Fraser and Nigel Lindsay who play the original Lehman brothers, then their sons and grandsons, in an epic production about a family that changed the world.

February 8 to May 20; buy tickets here

Phaedra, National Theatre

This is a new take on Seneca’s tragedy by Simon Stone, who so brilliantly reimagined Yerma with Billie Piper in 2018. This new production stars Janet McTeer, recently seen in Netflix series Ozark, and Assaad Bouab (who played Hicham Janowski in Call My Agent) making his UK stage debut.

February 9 to April 8; nationaltheatre.org.uk

Medea, @sohoplace

 (Handout)
(Handout)

Sophie Okonedo stars and Dominic Cooke directs this story of a woman laid bare by grief and anger, and her terrible quest for revenge.

February 10 to April 22; sohoplace.org

Standing at the Sky’s Edge, National Theatre

The award-winning musical, directed by Robert Hastie, gets its London debut at last. This love letter to Sheffield is set to the songs of Richard Hawley.

February 11 to March 25; nationaltheatre.org.uk

Sylvia, Old Vic

A new musical celebrating the life of Sylvia Pankhurst, the lesser known Pankhurst at the heart of the Suffragette movement. Initially a dance piece it became musical – it had a tricky start in 2018 and the production ended up being called a ‘work-in-progress’. It’s now back for its world premiere starring Beverley Knight.

February 14 to April 1; buy tickets here

Shirley Valentine, Duke of York’s Theatre

 (Handout)
(Handout)

Sheridan Smith plays Willy Russell’s heroine in an updated version of the classic tale, directed by Matthew Dunster. It proved so popular they have already extended the run.

February 17 to June 3, thedukeofyorks.com

Trouble in Butetown, Donmar Warehouse

Diana Nneka Atuona’s play is set in an illegal boarding house in Cardiff during wartime, stars Sarah Parish and Samuel Adewunmi and is directed by Tinuke Craig.

February 20 to March 25; donmarwarehouse.com

Romeo and Julie, National Theatre

No, not Shakespeare’s tale of star-crossed lovers (note the missing last letter) but a new play by Gary Owen, the writer of Iphigenia in Splott. It stars Callum Scott Howells from Channel 4 hit It’s a Sin as one of two Welsh teens raised a few streets apart but from different worlds.

February 21 to April 1; nationaltheatre.org

Women, Beware the Devil, Almeida

A new play by Lulu Raczka set in England in the 17th century, Women, Beware the Devil is a story of witchcraft and deceit directed by Rupert Goold. The cast includes Leo Bill and Lydia Leonard.

February 22 to March 26; almeida.co.uk

The Winter’s Tale, Shakespeare’s Globe

For the first time ever a production will take place across both of the Globe’s stages. Audiences will journey from the luxury of Sicilia in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse to the pastoral playground of Bohemia in the Globe. Directed by Sean Holmes.

February 22 to April 16; buy tickets here

Grenfell: System Failure - Scenes from the Inquiry

Based on the words of those involved in the final phase of the inquiry, this follows on from the earlier documentary theatre piece Grenfell: Value Engineering and asks vital questions of the failures that led to the tragedy. It is at the Playground Theatre, the Tabernacle and then the Marylebone Theatre.

February 25 to March 26; nimaxtheatres.com

The Great British Bake Off Musical, Noel Coward Theatre

John Owen-Jones and contestants in The Great British Bake Off Musical
John Owen-Jones and contestants in The Great British Bake Off Musical

The much loved baking competition is coming to the West End stage. After opening in Cheltenham The Great British Bake Off Musical follows the trials and tribulations of the bakers and stars John Owen Jones and Hayden Gwynn.

February 25 to May 13; buy tickets here

Guys and Dolls, Bridge Theatre

Nicholas Hytner directs an immersive production of the great musical based on Damon Runyon’s stories with choreography by Arlene Phillips. Experience all the classic tunes from Luck Be a Lady to Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat, close up.

February 27 and booking to September 2; buy tickets here

Oklahoma!, Wyndham’s Theatre

Forget everything you thought you knew about Oklahoma!. This stripped down, darker, “sexy” version proved a hit when it made the journey across the Atlantic to the Young Vic. Now it’s heading to the West End.

February 28 to Sept 2; buy tickets here

Further Than the Furthest Thing, Young Vic

A new production of Zinnie Harris’s play about an isolated community on a remote volcanic island whose lives are changed when an outsider arrives. Based on a true story, this production stars Cyril Nri and Jenna Russell.

March 9 to April 29; youngvic.org

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, Barbican

 (Patryk Hardziej)
(Patryk Hardziej)

Acclaimed theatre company Complicité adapts Olga Tokarczuk’s mind-blowing novel. Simon McBurney directs this story about men in an isolated Polish village being murdered.

March 15 to April 1; barbican.org.uk

Alice’s Adventures Underground, Labyrinth Waterloo

The hit immersive adaptation of the Lewis Caroll classic by Oliver Lansley and James Seager moves into a multi-purpose venue in Waterloo with even more twists and turns. Ready to fall down the rabbit hole?

March 15 and booking to September 10; buy tickets here

Black Superhero, Royal Court Downstairs

A show about sex, drugs and hero worship, the debut play by Danny Lee Wynter follows David, who is in love with a superhero. Directed by Daniel Evans.

March 21 to April 25; buy tickets here

Berlusconi, Southwark Playhouse Elephant

The new musical about the bunga-bunga loving Italian premier opens Southwark’s new venue. Written by Ricky Simmonds and Simon Vaughan, it’s produced by Francesca (Fleabag) Moody. Sure to be a riot.

March 29 to April 29; southwarkplayhouse.co.uk

A Little Life, Harold Pinter Theatre

Zach Wyatt ,James Norton, Omari Douglas and Luke Thompson (Handout / image by Charlie Gray/ A Little Life / Harold Pinter Theatre)
Zach Wyatt ,James Norton, Omari Douglas and Luke Thompson (Handout / image by Charlie Gray/ A Little Life / Harold Pinter Theatre)

James Norton, Omari Douglas, Luke Thompson star in director Ivo van Hove’s take on Hanya Yanagihara’s weighty and heartbreaking bestselling novel about four college friends in New York City.

March 30 to June 18; buy tickets here

Ain’t Too Proud, Prince Edward Theatre

The Tony Award-winning musical about the Temptations’ journey from the streets of Detroit to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame arrives in the West End with hits like My Girl and Papa Was a Rolling Stone.

March 31 and booking until October 1; buy tickets here

Vardy v Rooney: The Wagatha Christie Trial, Ambassadors Theatre

Lucy May Barker, left, and Laura Dos Santos (Jack Merriman)
Lucy May Barker, left, and Laura Dos Santos (Jack Merriman)

The trial of the century transfers to the Ambassadors. Based on the court transcripts with humorous asides from pundits filling in the gaps, book your tickets……… now

April 6 to May 20; buy tickets here

Strike!, Southwark Playhouse

A play by Tracy Ryan about the 1984 anti-apartheid strike at Dunnes Stores in Dublin, which all started with a grapefruit.

April 17 to May 6; southwarkplayhouse.co.uk

Dancing at Lughnasa, National Theatre

Josie Rourke revives Brian Friel’s play about an Irish family’s world on the brink of change, with a cast including Derry Girls’ Siobhan McSweeney, and Ardal O’Hanlon.

April 18 to May 27; nationaltheatre.org.uk

Village Idiot, Theatre Royal Stratford East

A comedy about a village - “it’s not quite the Cotswolds, not quite one of those posh villages Americans have in movies” - that’s having a high-speed rail line driven through it because the townies want a lie in. Written by Samson Hawkins and directed by Nadia Fall.

April 19 to May 6; stratfordeast.com

The Good Person of Szechwan, Lyric Hammersmith

This is a new version of Brecht’s play about the cost of being good, written by Nina Segal and directed by Anthony Lau.

April 20 to May 13; lyric.co.uk

A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction, Barbican

Katie Mitchell directs Lydia West, from It’s a Sin, in Miranda Rose-Hall’s one woman show. It’s a sustainable touring production with Headlong, where the play is mounted at each venue with a local actor and creatives using sustainability guidelines.

April 26 to 29; barbican.org.uk

Richard III, Rose Theatre

 (Suki Dhanda)
(Suki Dhanda)

Bridgerton star Adjoah Andoh directs and stars as Shakespeare’s antihero king, exploring the story and the question of what happens to a person if bad intentions are ascribed to them based on their appearance, through the lens of race.

April 27 to May 13; rosetheatre.org

The Motive and the Cue, National Theatre

A Jack Thorne play directed by Sam Mendes? Yes please. This is about the making of Richard Burton and John Gielgud’s Hamlet with Johnny Flynn as Burton – then newly married to Elizabeth Taylor (played by Tuppence Middleton) – and Mark Gatiss as Gielgud.

May 2 to June 10; nationaltheatre.org

August in England, Bush Theatre

Written and performed by Lenny Henry, and directed by Lynette Linton and Daniel Bailey, this looks at a life impacted by the injustice of the Windrush scandal.

May 3 to 10 June, buy tickets here

The Circle, Orange Tree

For his first show as artistic director of the Orange Tree, Tom Littler revives Somerset Maugham’s 1921 comedy of manners about Arnold Champion-Cheney MP, whose perfect life is about to spiral out of control.

May 5 to June 17; orangetreetheatre.co.uk

Operation Mincemeat, Fortune Theatre

 (Avalon/SpitLip.)
(Avalon/SpitLip.)

This extraordinary show, a comedy musical based on the true story of a secret mission by British operatives that helped win the Second World War, has grown and grown. Now it’s heading to the West End it will hopefully bring in the wider audience it deserves.

May 10 to June 8; operationmincemeat.com

Once on this Island, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

A musical Caribbean story about love, grief, faith and hope by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, directed by Ola Ince.

May 17 to  June 10; openairtheatre.com

Aspects of Love, Lyric Shaftesbury Avenue

More than three decades after starring in the original West End run, Michael Ball returns in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, which has been reimagined for the 21st century by director Jonathan Kent.

May 25 to November 11; thelyrictheatreco.uk

We Will Rock You, London Coliseum

The Queen rock musical, written by Ben Elton, returns to London for a 12-week run this time at the Coliseum, the site of Freddie Mercury’s 1979 Royal Ballet performance.

June 2 to August 27; buy tickets here

42nd Street, Sadler’s Wells

This new production of the original showbiz musical, directed by Jonathan Church, brings the spirit of golden age Broadway to Sadler’s Wells.

June 7 to July 2; buy tickets here

Groundhog Day, Old Vic

Danny Rubin and Tim Minchin’s musical adaptation of Bill Murray’s classic time-loop comedy, directed by Matthew Warchus and starring Andy Karl, returns to the Old Vic (appropriately).

June 8 to Aug 12; buy tickets here

School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play, Lyric Hammersmith

The Lyric is staging the UK premiere of this award-winning comedy by Ghanaian American Jocelyn Bioh, directed by Monique Touko. It is set during a beauty pageant in a Ghanaian girls’ boarding school in 1986 and explores the universal similarities, and glaring differences, facing teenage girls around the world.

June 14 to July 15; lyric.co.uk

The Pillowman, Duke of York’s Theatre

Lily Allen and Steve Pemberton star in the revival of Martin McDonagh’s superb black comedy, which examines the role of the artist in society. Matthew Dunster directs the first major revival of the Olivier award-winning play.

June 21 to September 2; pillowmanplay.com

Tambo & Bones, Theatre Royal Stratford East

Matthew Xia directs Dave Harris’s play, which blends afro-futurism, hip hop and clowning to tell the story of two men trapped in a minstrel show.

June 22 to July 15; stratfordeast.com

Mrs Doubtfire, Shaftesbury Theatre

 (Handout)
(Handout)

After a run in Manchester, this comedy musical adaptation of the hit Robin Williams film arrives in the West End. After losing custody of his kids, out-of-work actor Daniel disguises himself as a Scottish nanny to stay in their lives – now with added songs.

June 22, booking to January 24, 2024; book tickets here

Crazy for You, Gillian Lynne Theatre

This musical about a theatre-mad banker who sets out to save a small town venue, is directed and choreographed by Tony and Olivier award-winner Susan Stroman and stars Charlie Stemp.

July 3 to January 20, 2024; book tickets here

Wizard of Oz, Palladium

Nikolai Foster’s new production of the much-loved story includes all the classic tunes as well as additional songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.

July 6 to September 3; lwtheatres.co.uk

Spongebob Squarepants, the Musical, Southbank Centre

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea only to make it big on Broadway? You guessed it, Spongebob Squarepants. The all-singing, all-dancing show comes to the South Bank.

July 6 to Aug 26; buy tickets here

La Cage Aux Folles, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Harvey Fierstein’s classic, with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, receives a major revival at Regent’s Park.

July 6 to September 16; openairtheatre.com

Next To Normal, Donmar

The critically acclaimed Broadway musical about a suburban wife and mother with bipolar disorder, written by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, comes to the Donmar, directed by Michael Longhurst.

August 22 to October 7; donmarwarehouse.com