The Winter 2018 London Theatre Preview

Special Features   The Winter 2018 London Theatre Preview
From the world premiere of Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance to a new play by Pulitzer winner Annie Baker—plus star turns by Carey Mulligan, Samantha Spiro, and more—here’s what’s coming up across the pond.

While old favorites like the long-running Phantom of the Opera and Kinky Boots and newer hits like Dreamgirls and the Bob Dylan tuner Girl From the North Country continue to run in London’s West End, the dawn of 2018 brings the beginning of a packed winter theatrical season. From new stagings of classics like Julius Caesar and Long Day’s Journey Into Night to adaptations of acclaimed films like Jubilee, from plays by award-winning writers like Tarrell Alvin McCraney and Annie Baker to appearances by Game of Thrones actors, the plays and musicals on tap for the next three months serve a variety of sensibilities. Here’s what’s opening on and off the West End from January through March of the coming new year:

Productions are listed in chronological order based on the date of the first preview performance.



January 9: The Royal Haymarket Theatre welcomes back The Rat Pack – Live From Las Vegas in a nostalgic romp for a limited engagement through February 3. The show that celebrates the talent of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Dean Martin racked up over 1,000 performances during its original West End run.

January 9: One of Pinter’s most-performed plays, The Birthday Party officially opens at the Harold Pinter Theatre January 18. Zoe Wanamaker, Tony nominee Stephen Mangan (The Norman Conquests), and Toby Jones lead the cast for a run through April 14.

January 10: The comedy East by actor Steven Berkoff comes to the West End at the King’s Head Theatre. Best known for roles like Victor Maitland in Beverly Hills Cop and and General Orlov in the James Bond film Octopussy, his play features “twists and turns of foul-mouthed verse, and explosions of personality will plunge you into interior worlds you might never want to crawl out of.” Playing through February 3.

January 10: Director Simon Stokes shepherds Glenn Waldron’s dark comedy The Here and This and Now to the Southwark Playhouse with an official opening set for January 12. A newly recruited sales team for a pharmaceutical company are marketing a new drug, but what exactly are they selling? Through February 10.

January 11: Australian writer Andrew Bovell brings his Things I Know to Be True to London’s Lyric Hammersmith after an acclaimed world premiere in his home country. Co-directed by Tony- and Olivier-nominated Scott Graham and Georgie Brookman, the Off West End drama takes a poetic and candid look at family dynamics. Running through February 3.

January 11: Obie-winning writer and performer Anna Deavere Smith brings her Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992. Just like her Notes From the Field, this piece is based on interviews from police commissioners to Rodney King’s family members about the tragedy in the summer of 1992. An official opening is set for January 15 before a February 3 closing.

January 12: Lady Windermere’s Fan starring two-time Olivier winner and Games of Thrones actor Samantha Spiro, BAFTA winner Kevin Bishop, Grace Molony, and Joshua James officially opens January 22 at the Vaudeville Theatre. The Oscar Wilde comedy revolves around relationships and infidelity among the 19th-century English elite. Directed by Kathy Burke, the play runs through April 7.

January 13: The Duke of York’s Theatre welcomes Robert Icke’s adaptation of Mary Stuart before it launches a U.K. tour. Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams alternate the lead roles—based on a pre-curtain coin toss—in a run that opens January 25 and closes March 31.

January 15: Danny and Laura are a mess. It’s nearly dawn and Laura’s just thrown a party to end all parties—so maybe another drink? David Eldridge’s Beginning transfers to the Ambassadors Theatre after a run at the National’s Dorfman, directed by Polly Findlay. With an opening January 23, the play is set for a March 24 closing.

January 17: Russian playwright Mikhail Durnekov’s dark comedy The War Has Not Yet Started unfolds in 12 parables about the fears and idiosyncrasies of our everyday lives. Directed by award-winning television and stage director Gordon Anderson, the show opens at the Southwark Playhouse January 19 and continues through February 10.

January 17: Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Baker (The Flick) bring her play John to the National’s Dorfman Theatre. Directed by James McDonald (The Children), the show stars Marylouise Burke, Tom Mothersdale, Anneika Rose, and June Watson. Set at a Gettysburg B&B as a young couple struggles to stay together, the show opens January 24 and runs through March 3.

January 18: O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night gets a run at Wyndham’s Theatre starring Tony winner Jeremy Irons and Olivier winner Lesley Manville. Director Richard Eyre’s mounting of the Pulitzer-winning play runs through April 8 before coming to BAM in NYC.

January 19: Oscar winner Tarrell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight) brings his The Brothers Size to London’s Young Vic, directed by Bijan Sheibani. The acclaimed play tells the story of brothers who reconnect after serving time in prison, combining mythology and traditional drama. An official opening is set for January 26 with a February 14 closing.

January 20: Nicholas Hytner brings his production of Julius Caesar to the Bridge Theatre, starring David Calder as Caesar, David Morrissey (Hangmen) as Mark Antony, Ben Whishaw (The Crucible) as Brutus, and Michelle Fairley (Game of Thrones) as Cassius. The show opens January 30 and runs through April 15.

January 24: With music by Fiddler on the Roof’s Tony-winning Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick and a book by Tony nominee Sherman Yellen, Rothschild & Sons (a reworked version of The Rothschilds) tells the story of the family that risks it all to change the world in its U.K. premiere. The production opens January 27 and closes February 17.

January 24: Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties uses the influences of cabaret and female drag to render a gut-punch to the patriarchy in this energetic comedic celebration. Stories of five women named Betty intersect as they “meet, fall in love, rehearse, revel, and rage.” This marks the U.K. premiere of Jen Silverman’s work, directed by Charlie Parham and running through February 17.

January 26: After an acclaimed run at New York’s Public Theater, Sarah Burgess’ Dry Powder makes its U.K. debut at the Hampstead Theatre, directed by Anna Ledwich. The “breathtakingly witty and virtuosic comedy exploring the vision, the vulnerability, and the vilification of those shaping—and skewing—the economy” runs through March 3 and stars Olivier nominee Hayley Atwell and Tom Riley.

January 31: A graduate of the Royal Court Theatre’s Young Writer’s Programme, Simon Longman makes his Royal Court debut with Gundog, the story of two sisters keeping their family together after their mother dies. Royal Court artistic director Vicky Featherstone helms the production, which runs through February 10.


February 8: The famed Donmar Warehouse stages Peter Gill’s play about two young men in love with The York Realist. The cast includes Jonathan Bailey, Ben Batt (Shameless), and SAG Award winner Lesley Nicol (Downton Abbey) in a production directed by Robert Hastie running through March 4.

February 8: After meeting in line at the airport, a couple starts to settle down with the house and kids—but not before their world unravels. Girls & Boys by Dennis Kelly (book writer of Matilda the Muscial) bows at the Royal Court Theatre starring Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan for a run through March 17.

February 9: Not to be confused with the Disney property of the same name, Frozen stars Suranne Jones in a limited engagement run at the Royal Haymarket. Frozen follows the mother of a kidnapping victim and the kidnapper, played by Olivier nominee Jason Watkins, during the search for the missing 10 year old. The show runs through May 5.

February 13: Gilbert and Sullivan take center stage with Iolanthe at the London Coliseum. The grand comedy follows Phyllis and Strephon who wish to marry, but Phyllis needs the Lord Chancellor’s permission and the L.C. want her for himself. What to do? Directed by Cal McCrystal, the comic opera runs through April 7.

February 14: The world premiere of Philip Ridley’s Angry stars Georgie Henley (The Chronicles of Narnia) in the collection of five darkly comedic monologues about topics ranging from refugees, millennial anger, and interstellar travel. With an official opening February 16, the play runs through March 10.

February 15: Based on Derek Jarman’s film of the same name, Chris Goode’s adaptation of Jubilee remixes the social and political tumult of 1977 for the year 2017. The production at the Lyric Hammersmith opens February 20 and runs through March 10.

February 21: Adapted by BAFTA-winning writer Stephen Beresford, Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny & Alexander comes to the stage in this retelling of the 1900s-set romance. Max Webster directs the production, which opens March 1 and runs through April 14.

February 24: Tennessee Williams’ Summer and Smoke comes to the Almeida Theatre, starring Patsy Ferran, and runs through April 7.

February 26: The Scottish Play arrives at the National’s Olivier Theatre starring Olivier winner Rory Kinnear (Othello) and BAFTA winner Anne-Marie Duff (The History of Mr. Polly) as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Directed by Rufus Norris, the Shakespeare masterpiece runs through May 12.


March 2: Tony winner Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot The Musical, An Inspector Calls) directs the world premiere of The Inheritance by New York playwright Matthew Lopez (The Whipping Man, The Legend of Georgia McBride). “A generation after the worst of the AIDS crisis, what is it like to be a gay man in New York?” With an official opening March 28, the play runs at the Young Vic through May 5.

March 10: Set in Japan and North Korea, The Great Wave follows the story of two sisters struck by a gigantic wave, leaving one lost as sea and the other with survivor’s guilt. The play by Francis Turnly and directed by Indhu Rubasingham opens March 19 and runs through April 14 at the National’s Dorfman Theatre.

March 12: Caroline, or Change brings audiences back to 1963 and the civil rights movement. The Olivier- and Tony-winning musical from Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori plays the Hampstead Theatre through April 21.

March 14: Old Fools is a moving story about a couple and their struggle to preserve their relationship against the threat of Alzheimer’s. The drama plays the Southwark Playhouse through April 7.

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