The 11 Shows to Watch This London Theater Season

Here’s a guide to the buzziest shows this autumn in London, from musicals with all-star casts to Netflix’s first stage adaptation.

(Bloomberg) — This autumn will be a particularly rich time for London’s theater scene, with some blockbuster new productions hitting the stage.

Musical fans in particular have plenty to get excited about. Broadway legend Bernadette Peters will make her West End debut in a tribute to Stephen Sondheim. US pop singer Nicole Scherzinger will play femme fatale Norma Desmond in a version of Sunset Boulevard from superstar director Jamie Lloyd.

But the most in-demand ticket in town doesn’t feature Americans: It is  Macbeth at the Donmar Warehouse, featuring some of Britain’s finest Shakespearean actors. David Tennant will play the bard’s famous villain on stage for the first time. Cush Jumbo, who delighted audiences at the Young Vic in 2021 with her take on Hamlet, has been cast as Lady Macbeth. Tickets for the entire 10-week run sold out within hours of going on sale, but it’s worth checking the Donmar’s website for returns, or trying for one of the £15 ($20) standing tickets available on the day of the performance.

Even if you can’t snag a ticket to the Scottish play, there’s still plenty of buzzy shows and musicals that you can book now, whether you live in London or want to catch a production while you’re visiting. Here’s what to see on the West End and in smaller venues across the city.

God of Carnage

Where: Lyric Hammersmith When: From Sept. 1

Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who) stars in this revival of the Tony- and Olivier-award-winning dark comedy about two sets of parents who meet up for a discussion after their children get into a fight. The razor-sharp script from Yasmina Reza shows what happens when respectable adults act out worse than their misbehaving kids do.


Where: Hampstead Theatre When: From Sept. 7

MyAnna Buring from The Witcher plays a Silicon Valley engineer who uses artificial intelligence to create a digital version of her missing sister in a new sci-fi thriller from celebrated American playwright Lauren Gunderson. I’m looking forward to how creatives will tackle the thorny new issue of AI onstage.

Frank and Percy

Where: The Other PalaceWhen: From Sept. 8

National treasures Ian McKellen and Roger Allam reunite in this two-hander about two older men who find a genuine connection with each other. The pair did Aladdin at the Old Vic together nearly 20 years ago. It’s an odd-couple love story, written by up-and-coming British playwright Ben Weatherill. 


Where: Duke of York’s TheatreWhen:  From Sept. 15

Andrew Scott—yes, the hot priest from Fleabag—takes on the challenge of a one-man version of Chekhov’s masterpiece Uncle Vanya. He’ll play multiple roles—old and young, male and female—in what should be a showcase for Scott’s talents. 

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Old Friends

Where: Gielgud TheatreWhen: From Sept. 16

Producer Cameron Mackintosh has assembled an all-star cast in his tribute to the late composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, including Bernadette Peters and Lea Salonga. Incredibly, it will be the West End debut for Peters, who has been delighting Broadway audiences since the 1960s.

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Where: Young Vic When: From Sept. 18

Under the guidance of artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah, the Young Vic has been putting on some of the most thought-provoking productions in London. This should be no different. Kimber Lee’s award-winning play explores stereotypes about Asian women, in a show about taking control of your own narrative. She wrote it in response to seeing Miss Saigon on Broadway, and finding it full of sexist and racist tropes. 

Sunset Boulevard

Where: Savoy TheatreWhen: From Sept. 21

Nicole Scherzinger will be lighting up the West End in the role of Norma Desmond, the tragic, past-her-prime star who wants to return to her glory days. I’m sure the former Pussycat Doll will be more than ready for her close-up. Director Jamie Lloyd is fresh off his Tony-award nominated A Doll’s House on Broadway with Jessica Chastain. 


Where: Harold Pinter TheatreWhen: From Oct. 17

The supremely talented Kristin Scott Thomas plays a film star looking to make a comeback, 30 years after she had disappeared, in Penelope Skinner’s intriguing new play. Lily James is a young executive who comes to her remote Cornish home to assist with her return to the silver screen. James and Scott Thomas were last seen on screen together in Netflix’s adaptation of Rebecca.

Backstairs Billy

Where: Duke of York’s TheatreWhen: From Oct. 27 

This is a new comedy about the relationship between the Queen Mother and her loyal servant, William “Billy” Tallon. The champagne-soaked atmosphere inside Clarence House gets a dose of reality amid the strikes that brought Britain to its knees in 1979 under Margaret Thatcher. Penelope Wilton is playing the Queen Mum and Luke Evans is Billy.

Mates in Chelsea

Where:  The Royal Court When: From Nov. 3

Posh, a social satire about an Oxford University dining club, garnered rave reviews at the Royal Court in 2010 for its witty portrayal of bad behavior and class dynamics in British society. Mates in Chelsea could do the same for 2023, it is set to be a comedy about the southwest London dwellers who are (still) among the ruling classes.

Stranger Things: The First Shadow

Where: Phoenix Theatre When: From Nov. 17

Netflix’s smash-hit streaming series Stranger Things is about to get its theater debut. It’ll be a prequel, set in Hawkins in 1959, and will follow some familiar characters like a young Jim Hopper. Casting hasn’t been announced yet, but the script is by Kate Trefry, a writer on the TV series, and based on a story by Trefy, showrunners the Duffer Brothers, and Jack Thorne, who penned the stage adaptation of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

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