What’s Coming to London Theatre in Winter 2020?
Details about City of Angels, featuring Vanessa Williams, Alan Cumming and Daniel Radcliffe in Endgame, the stage debut of The Prince of Egypt, plus the U.K. premieres of Pretty Woman, Be More Chill, Antoinette Nwandu’s Pass Over, and more London offerings.
Theatregoers crossing the Atlantic this winter (and those already there) will have a host of theatrical treats from which to choose, including the London stage debut of Tony, Emmy, and Grammy nominee Vanessa Williams, who will star in the West End transfer of the Donmar Warehouse's Olivier Award–winning revival of City of Angels. Two other American musicals will also be seen on London stages: Pretty Woman: The Musical, based on the box-office hit film of the same name, and Joe Iconis’ Be More Chill, seen on Broadway earlier this season. Tony winner Alan Cumming and Daniel Radcliffe will head the cast of a revival of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, while Stephen Schwartz’s The Prince of Egypt and Antoinette Nwandu’s Pass Over are just a few of the other productions scheduled to arrive in London in the next three months.
Here's a sampling of what's opening on and off the West End—and what shows welcome new casts—from January through March of 2020:
Productions are listed in chronological order based on the date of the first preview performance.
January 6: The West End production of Everybody's Talking About Jamie welcomes a host of new faces in principal roles: Noah Thomas steps into the title role of Jamie New, succeeding Layton Williams, and Preeya Kalidas will play Miss Hedge. Also beginning that day are Hiba Elchikhe (Australia's Aladdin) as Pritti Pasha, David O'Reilly as Laika Virgin, Leon Craig as Sandra Bollock, Jordan Ricketts as Dean, Zion Battles as Levi, Keenan Knight as Sayid, understudy Brian James Leys and swings Ebony Clarke and Joe Wolstenholme. In addition to playing the West End, the Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae musical will embark on a U.K. tour next year. A film adaptation is also currently in development.
January 9: Carolyn Maitland (Ghost, Groundhog Day), Dave Willetts (The Phantom of the Opera, Aspects of Love), and Sam Attwater (EastEnders, Hollyoaks) star as Rebecca, Avram, and Bronfman, respectively, in Rags at London's Park Theatre in 2020. Directed by Bronagh Lagan (Little Women, Broken Wings), with musical direction by Joe Bunker and choreography by Philip Michael Thomas, the production will continue through February 8 with an official opening January 14. Rags, which has a book by Joseph Stein (Fiddler on the Roof) revised by David Thompson, lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked), and music by Charles Strouse (Annie), tells the story of Russian immigrant Rebecca, who, with her son David, travels to America in search of a better life.
January 14: Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, in a new adaptation from Conor McPherson (Girl from the North Country) directed by Ian Rickson, begins at the Harold Pinter Theatre prior to an official opening January 23. The cast is led by Toby Jones in the title role with Richard Armitage as Astrov, Aimee Lou Wood (Sex Education, Downstate) as Sonya, Rosalind Eleazar (The Personal History of David Copperfield) as Yelena, Olivier nominee Ciarán Hinds (Girl from the North Country) as the Professor, Olivier and Tony nominee Dearbhla Molloy (The Ferryman) as Grandmaman, Emmy winner Anna Calder-Marshall (LOVE) as Nana, and Peter Wight (The Birthday Party) as Telegin. Set on a crumbling estate in the countryside, Vanya sees the lives of Sonya, her uncle, and a visiting doctor disrupted by the arrival of Sonya's father, Professor Serebryakov, and his restless new wife, the beautiful Yelena. Through May 2.
January 15: In the National Theatre’s Lyttelton, Lucy Kirkwood’s The Welkin begins performances prior to an official opening January 22. James Macdonald directs a cast led by Maxine Peake (Black Mirror, Funny Cow) as Lizzy and Ria Zmitrowicz (The Doctor) as Sally. Set in 1759 Rural Suffolk, as the country waits for Halley’s comet, Sally Poppy is sentenced to hang for a heinous murder. When she claims to be pregnant, a jury of 12 matrons are taken from their housework to decide whether she’s telling the truth, or simply trying to escape the noose. With only midwife Lizzy Luke prepared to defend the girl, and a mob baying for blood outside, the matrons wrestle with their new authority, and the devil in their midst. Playing through May 23, The Welkin will be streamed as part of National Theatre Live May 21.
January 16: The Boulevard Theatre’s London premiere of Cormac McCarthy’s The Sunset Limited is directed by Olivier and Tony winner Terry Johnson (Mrs. Henderson Presents, La Cage aux Folles) and will officially open January 21. The two-hander features Gary Beadle (Now We Are Here, EastEnders) and Jasper Britton (Jerusalem, Witness for the Prosecution) as, respectively, Black and White—two men who meet on a subway platform. The chance encounter instantly changes the trajectory of both their lives. McCarthy's other works include The Road, All the Pretty Horses, Blood Meridian, and No Country for Old Men. Through February 29.
January 21: Sophie Isaacs will take over the role of Katherine Howard in Six, holding court at the Arts Theatre in London beginning January 21, 2020. Isaacs currently plays Goldilocks in Goldilocks and the Three Bears at the London Palladium and previously starred in Heathers in the West End. The actor joins current cast members Jarneia Richard-Noel, Courtney Bowman, Natalie Paris, Alexia McIntosh, and Danielle Steers. Isaacs succeeds Vicki Manser, who is leaving Six to become the alternate Carole King in Beautiful—The Carole King Musical on a U.K. tour. Six, which gives Henry VIII's six ill-fated wives the opportunity to tell their stories through a high-energy pop score, began in the U.K. at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017 before heading to London, going on to earn five Olivier Award nominations including Best New Musical. The show is scheduled to open on Broadway March 12, 2020, starring Adrianna Hicks, Andrea Macasaet, Abby Mueller, Brittney Mack, Samantha Pauly, and Anna Uzele.
January 22: Chris Bush’s Faustus: That Damned Woman, a new play that imagines Faustus as a woman who sells her soul to the devil in order to save the world, will star Jodie McNee (Venice Preserved, Anatomy of a Suicide) in the title role with Danny Lee Wynter (The Maids, Comus) as Mephistopheles. Caroline Byrne (All’s Well That Ends Well) will helm the production at the Lyric Hammersmith in London, before playing Birmingham Repertory Theatre. The production will then tour throughout the spring, visiting Bristol Old Vic, Leeds Playhouse, and Northern Stage. This is the first work to be commissioned as part of U.K.-based theatre company Headlong and the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre’s commitment to commissioning and producing work of scale by women playwrights. Through February 22.
January 25: The world premiere of Tom Stoppard’s Leopoldstadt, which plays the Wyndham’s Theatre, is set over several decades in Vienna, Austria. The play looks at the human condition and its resilience in the face of traumatic history before and after World War II. Director Patrick Marber reunites with Stoppard, having directed his Travesties on Broadway in 2018. Through June 13.
January 27: Tony winner Alan Cumming (Cabaret, The Good Wife) and Daniel Radcliffe (Equus, Harry Potter films) lead the Old Vic production of Samuel Beckett's Endgame in London’s West End. Directed by Richard Jones, the cast also includes Jane Horrocks (Cabaret, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice) and Karl Johnson (Noises Off, Girl From the North Country). Beckett’s macabre comedy, officially opening February 4, will be presented in a double bill with his rarely-seen Rough for Theatre II. Through March 28.
January 27: Tony-nominated Waitress composer Sara Bareilles will make her West End debut as Jenna in the London bow of her musical. Joining her will be Tony and Olivier winner Gavin Creel (Hello, Dolly!, The Book of Mormon) as Dr. Pomatter. The pair will play a six-week limited run at the Adelphi Theatre; the two co-starred in the Broadway production this past year.
January 31: Death of England, a new play by Clint Dyer and Roy Williams, begins performances in the National Theatre's Dorfman under the direction of Dyer. Rafe Spall (Hedda Gabler, Black Mirror) performs this one-person play, which asks explosive and enduring questions about identity, race, and class in Britain. Through March 7.
January 31: In the National Theatre's Olivier, Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s visionary revenge play The Visit finds a new setting in mid-20th century America courtesy of Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner (Angels in America), based on the original English version by Maurice Valency. Jeremy Herrin (People, Places and Things) directs The Visit or The Old Lady Comes to Call, starring Lesley Manville (The Phantom Thread, Long Day’s Journey into Night) as the shrewd heiress and Hugo Weaving (The Matrix) as her former love. Opening night is February 13 for a limited run through May 13.
February 3: The Almeida Theatre’s spring season begins with Mike Bartlett’s Albion, which returns to the Almeida following an acclaimed 2017 production. Victoria Hamilton again stars; artistic director Rupert Goold (Ink, King Charles III) directs. Performances continue through February 29.
February 5: Writer Jonathan Harvey (Beautiful Thing, Babies) and Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, who created the musical Closer to Heaven almost two decades ago, have again joined forces to create Musik, a solo show with a book by Harvey and six songs by Tennant and Lowe—four of which were written for this production. Frances Barber, who starred in the first Pet Shop Boys musical, premiered Musik in August at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In the hour-long show, she reprises her role as Billie Trix from 2001’s Closer to Heaven. The run plays London's Leicester Square Theatre through March 1.
February 5: The stage version of the animated musical film The Prince of Egypt begins previews at the Dominion Theatre ahead of a February 25 opening night. Composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz, who earned an Academy Award for Best Original song for “When You Believe,” has expanded his score for the stage adaptation that has a book by Philip LaZebnik (Mulan, Pocahontas). Scott Schwartz directs and Sean Cheesman choreographs a cast led by Luke Brady as Moses, Christine Allado as Tzipporah, Alexia Khadime as Miriam, Liam Tamne as Ramses, Joe Dixon as Seti, Debbie Kurup as Queen Tuya, Gary Wilmot as Jethro, Adam Pearce as Hotep, Tanisha Spring as Nefertari, Mercedesz Csampai as Yocheved, and Silas Wyatt-Barke as Aaron. Set to run through September 12.
February 6: The Donmar Warehouse production of Caryl Churchill’s Far Away, which will officially open February 12 for a limited run through March 28, is directed by Lyndsey Turner. BAFTA-winning actor Jessica Hynes (The Norman Conquests, The Night Heron, There She Goes) will make her Donmar debut in the role of Harper alongside Aisling Loftus as Joan and Simon Manyonda as Todd. Churchill’s play, about a world sliding into chaos, receives this new production at the Donmar 20 years after its premiere.
February 7: Ben Elton’s stage adaptation of the BBC TV sitcom Upstart Crow plays the Gielgud Theatre, where it will officially open February 17. As he did in the TV series, David Mitchell will play Will Shakespeare. Directed by Olivier winner Sean Foley, the 11-week engagement will also feature Gemma Whelan (Game of Thrones and Gentleman Jack) as Kate, Helen Monks as Susanna, Rob Rouse as Bottom, Steve Speirs as Burbage, and Mark Heap as a new character, Dr. John Hall, with Jason Callender, Danielle Phillips, and Rachel Summers. The comedy is set in 1605 as England’s greatest playwright is in trouble. King James has been on the throne for two years, and Shakespeare has produced just two plays. Those who work at the pleasure of the King live in constant fear of his favor. The Bard desperately needs to come up with a brilliant new plot, but he is finding it impossible to focus on finding one.
February 12: The U.K. premiere of the recent Broadway musical Be More Chill, with Scott Folan as Jeremy Heere and Blake Patrick Anderson as Michael, begins at The Other Palace. The cast of the Joe Iconis and Joe Tracz musical about an unpopular teen who takes a supercomputer pill to become cool also features two former Queens from the musical Six, Renée Lamb and Millie O’Connell as Jenna and Chloe, respectively, plus Miracle Chance as Christine Canigula, Stewart Clarke as The Squip, Eloise Davies as Brooke Lohst, James Hameed as Rich Goranski, Miles Paloma as Jake Dillinger, and Christopher Fry as Mr. Heere and Mr. Reyes. Stephen Brackett directs with choreography by Chase Brock.
February 13: Paapa Essiedu, Alexander Eliot, and Gershwyn Eustache Jr. star in the U.K. premiere of Antoinette Nwandu’s Pass Over at the Kiln Theatre in London. Indhu Rubasingham directs the production, which will officially open February 19. In Pass Over, seen last year at LCT3 and previously in Chicago, two young black men, Moses (Essiedu) and Kitch (Eustache Jr.), find ways to pass the time while sitting and waiting on a street corner. The play, which draws from both Waiting for Godot and the Exodus saga, paints a chilling portrait of what it means to be a young black man in the world today. Through March 21.
READ: 10 Moments That Made Pass Over Possible
February 13: When Pretty Woman: The Musical, the stage adaptation of the 1990 romantic comedy, arrives at London's Piccadilly Theatre, the cast will be headed by Aimie Atkinson (Olivier nominee for Six) as Vivian and Danny Mac (Wicked, Legally Blonde) as Edward. Tony winner Jerry Mitchell, who directed and choreographed the Broadway production of the musical, repeats those duties for London. The limited engagement is currently scheduled to play 46 weeks.
February 14: The Bridge Theatre mounts a revival of Caryl Churchill’s A Number, starring Roger Allam (Royal Shakespeare Company’s Les Misérables) and Colin Morgan (Old Vic’s All My Sons). Directed by Polly Findlay, the play follows a man who discovers he is a clone, just one of several identical copies, and confronts his creator. Opening night is February 19 set to play through March 14.
March 5: Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit, which opened in June as part of Artistic Director Jonathan Church’s Summer Season at Theatre Royal Bath, returns to the Duke of York's Theatre for a limited run through April 11. Directed by Richard Eyre and again starring Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous), the comedy will launch a tour before its West End return. Performances begin January 22 at Theatre Royal Brighton before playing Malvern Theatre, Theatre Royal Bath, Cambridge Arts Theatre, Richmond Theatre, and Norwich Theatre Royal. Saunders reprises her role as clairvoyant Madame Arcati, joined by original cast members Geoffrey Streatfeild as Charles, Lisa Dillon as Ruth Condomine, Emma Naomi as Elvira, Simon Coates as Dr. Bradman, Lucy Robinson as Mrs. Bradman, and Rose Wardlaw as Edith.
March 5: The Donmar Warehouse's transfer of its Olivier Award–winning revival of City of Angels begins at the Garrick under the direction of Josie Rourke. Returning to the revival are Rosalie Craig (Company) as Gabby/Bobbi, Hadley Fraser (Les Misérables, Young Frankenstein) as Stine, and Rebecca Trehearn (Showboat) as Donna/Oolie, all of whom reprise their roles from the 2014 production of the Larry Gelbart-Cy Coleman-David Zippel musical. New to the production are Vanessa Williams, making her West End debut playing Carla/Alaura, and Theo James, known to film fans for his roles in the Divergent franchise, and Jonathan Slinger (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in London) as Stone and Buddy/Irwin, respectively. City of Angels finds a crime novelist working on a screenplay adaptation of one of his books as his marriage is crumbling, while his hardboiled hero can't get over the one that got away in a much-beloved spoof of film noir and 1940s Hollywood.
March 5: On Blueberry Hill, by Irish Laureate Sebastian Barry, will play London's Trafalgar Studios for a limited engagement through May 2. Reprising their performances from the play's Dublin and Off-Broadway engagements will be Olivier winner Niall Buggy (Aristocrats, Dead Funny) as Christy and David Ganly (Girl From the North Country) as PJ. The play follows two people who are both best of friends and worst of enemies as they are fated to spend 20 years together. The production, from Irish theatre company Fishamble, is directed by Jim Culleton.
March 18: All of Us, a new play by Francesca Martinez, begins performances in the Dorfman Theatre at London's National. Writer and comedian Martinez leads an ensemble cast in her debut play, directed by Ian Rickson (Translations). The drama, which explores life, love, and the struggle to survive, also features Chris Anderson, Bryan Dick, Francesca Mills, Wanda Opalinska, Lucy Briers, Crystal Condie, and Kevin Hely.
March 19: The first London revival of Lucy Prebble's The Effect begins performances at the Boulevard Theatre for a limited engagement through May 30. Directed by Anthony Neilson, opening night is scheduled for March 25. The Effect, which won the Critics’ Circle Award for Best New Play when it opened at the National Theatre in 2012, places modern medicine under the microscope, examining the fallout from a collision between love and science.
March 21: Sleepless, A Musical Romance, a new musical based on the original screenplay for Sleepless in Seattle, will officially open in London March 31 following previews that begin March 21 at London's newly opened Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre. The cast of the musical, with a book by Michael Burdette and music and lyrics by Robert Scott and Brendan Cull, will be led by Michael D. Xavier (Sunset Boulevard) as Sam and Kimberley Walsh as Annie. Morgan Young directs the production, which concerns Sam, who moves to Seattle with his eight year-old son Jonah following the death of his wife. When Jonah calls in to a radio show, Sam is forced to talk about his broken heart and sleepless nights live on air, and he finds himself one of the most sought-after single men in America.
March 30: The U.K. premiere of Jeremy O. Harris’ “Daddy,” directed by Danya Taymor, begins at the Almeida. The Los Angeles-set melodrama, which takes place around a Bel Air swimming pool, follows a young black artist who moves in with an older white art collector, prompting his mother to go on a quest to save her son’s soul.