Summer season at the theatre and how do you chose what to watch? With so many showstoppers in London’s bright lights it’s tricky to know which is the one for you. So, here at The Handbook we have compiled a first class selection for your very own perusal, showcasing a huge variety of productions from modern day musicals to comedy classics to intimate immersives. So what are you waiting for – get booking and let your inner thespian shine!
Hot off the press, Regent’s Park Theatre have just confirmed the full casting for their production of Tim Rice andAndrew Lloyd Webber’s 1978 hit musical Evita. Opening on 2nd August, Evita is the fastest selling production in the theatre’s history.
The Open Air Theatre’s annual musical is a highlight of everyone’s summer season and Evita is an absolute musical classic, with world famous songs such as Don’t Cry For Me Argentina and You Must Love Me. Directed by Jamie Lloyd, the musical tells the story of Evita Peron, her rags to riches rise to become the First Lady and spiritual leader of Argentina. This performance promises to bring Argentina to life under the starry London sky.
2ndAugust – 21stSeptember 2019
After its phenomenal success at The National, Sam Mendes’ production has transferred to The Piccadilly Theatre for the summer season. The show tells the story of the Lehman Brothers, from their arrival in New York in 1844 through to the collapse of their global empire in 2008.
The acting is superb, with just three actors adopting myriad roles, surrounded by a minimalist set. Passion, power and a pinch of humour makes this a punchy play, hard to forget and intensely relevant. It’s not for the fainthearted however, at three hours and twenty minutes (luckily with two intervals). If you get the chance, this is a must-see.
Until Saturday 3rdAugust 2019
This Noel Coward comic classic is enjoying a summer revival at The Old Vic. Garry Essendine, the much-loved self-obsessed hero of Present Laughter is being played by Andrew Scott, of Moriarty, Hamlet and Fleabag fame. Matthew Warchus, Head of The Old Vic and director of the production described the play as ‘a giddy and passionate observation of narcissism, hero worship and loneliness’ with ‘surprising depths’. The play follows Garry as he negotiates seduction, playwrights and his own impending mid-life crisis. Coward’s typical light-hearted and quick-witted humour proves for many a chuckle.
Until 10thAugust 2019
Plunge straight into the roaring twenties with this immersive theatre production of the Great Gatsby. Jay Gatsby, party-lover, hedonistic host and elusive-lover throws his most exuberant bash yet, complete with champagne cocktails and gin refills. Instead of following a singular narrative, this production brings F Scott Fitzgerald’s prose to life with numerous scenes happening simultaneously. Listen to Daisy Buchanan’s chatter, learn to Charleston, and creep down corridors behind Nick Carraway. Sparkling in starry reviews, it’s time for you to don your glitz and glide on down for an extraordinary night of lust and liquor. You don’t want to miss out on this one old sport!
Until 31stDecember 2019
Renowned French playwright Florian Zeller brings his family saga trilogy to a climatic finale in The Son. The production is transferring to the West End having enjoyed rave reviews in Kilburn, under the slick guidance of director Michael Longhurst. The drama follows teenage Nicholas who is struggling to come to terms with his parents’ divorce. Rebellious and remote, Nicholas is caught in between the actions of his mother and father. Zeller scrutinises a new aspect of family life with his signature emotional whack , with critics at The Times celebrating The Son as ‘his most powerful of all’.
24thAugust – 2ndNovember 2019
If you haven’t been to see ETAJ yet, this summer is your chance as it is only running until January 2020. Hailed a roaring success as a fresh take on British musical theatre, ETAJ is based on a true story told in a 2011 BBC documentary Jamie: A Drag Queen at 16. It is a musical that centres on bravery, empowerment and self-fulfilment, as Jamie learns to celebrate who he is. Frequently touted alongside the likes of Billy Eliot and Kinky Boots, this is a heart-warming celebration of difference. It’s also fresh and sparky, managing to steer clear of clichés and cuddles, successfully bringing to life one of the strongest modern day musicals.
Until 25thJanuary 2020
Ned Bennet’s celebrated production of Equus is transferring to Trafalgar Studios after stunning audiences at Theatre Royal Stratford East. Bennet reconsiders Peter Schaffer’s 1973 classic, employing physical theatre and emphasising homoerotic hints. The story is inspired by a true story about a seventeen year old boy blinding six horses, and delves deep into the psyche of a young man obsessed with equestrians. Addressing mythology, spirituality and sexuality, the drama is compelling and unashamedly hard hitting.
6thJuly – 7thSeptember 2019
Jellyfish is the story of Agnes and her daughter Kelly who has Down’s Syndrome. Together they have walked the same stretch of Skegness beach everyday for fifteen years, but when Kelly meets Neil, things start to change. Kelly wants first kisses and chips by the beach, as Agnes struggles with losing her daughter. This is a tale of overcoming obstacles and falling in love. A tender and touching exploration of the experience of disability, it is running for a very limited time so buy your tickets quick!
5thJuly – 16thJuly 2019
Come From Away has been extended due to popular demand, so there is still time to get your dose of this super-duper heart-warmer musical. Come From Away is based on the events of Gander, a small Canadian town where 38 planes were ordered to land following the 9/11 attacks. The musical tells the true story of the town who kept 7000 stranded visitors housed and fed following the biggest tragedy the US had seen. Come From Away is the definition of inspiring, and has been nominated for a whole host of awards. In a time when news is all doom and gloom this show has been described as a ‘big bearhug of a musical’.
Until 15thFeb 2020
Kenneth Lonergan, famous for his Oscar winning film Manchester by the Sea has written tender exploration of a man’s mid-life crisis. Hollywood star Matthew Broderick makes his West End debut as mild-mannered Mark, an astrology professor who has fallen into a middle-class, middle-aged stupor of boredom. Until he meets Angela, a young single mother who makes Mark feels starry-eyed again. However, when catastrophe hits, Mark has to re-evaluate everything he knows, and come to terms with his real place in the universe. This is a bittersweet exploration of one man’s neurosis, with a cracking cast line up and a cunningly cosmic-inspired set, a.k.a not a show to miss.
Until 10th August 2019