Get back into theatre: our picks for 2021
If you’ve missed theatre as much as we have this year, you’ll be delighted to hear of its return this summer. For some productions, these will be their first shows since theatres shut last March, and for others their long-awaited premiere on the West End. We have rounded up eight of our favourites that should be the top of your list when it's finally time for curtains up.
We all know the fateful story of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” — but what if Juliet chose her own fate, and her famous tragic ending was just her beginning? What if she got over Romeo by running off to Paris with her best friends on a whirlwind journey of self-discovery and second chances? “& Juliet” is her story, and “a kind of raucous Shakespeare comedy in itself” (The Stage).
This “dazzlingly brilliant” (Evening Standard) jukebox musical soars with the pop anthems of legendary songwriter Max Martin including “Baby One More Time”, “Everybody (Backstreet's Back)”, and “Love Me Like You Do". “& Juliet” is directed by Luke Sheppard (“In the Heights”) with a story by David West Read (Netflix’s “Schitt’s Creek”), so you know you are in for a treat.
The musical enjoyed a series of memorable moments in 2020: three Olivier Awards, including Best Actress in a Musical for Miriam-Teak Lee (Juliet); a performance on “Strictly Come Dancing” on Musicals Week; six Whatsonstage Awards, the most of any production in 2020; and Best Actress in a Musical for Miriam-Teak Lee at the Black British Theatre Awards.
Back to the Future
Take a ride back in time as pop-culture phenomenon “Back to the Future” arrives in London's West End. Marty McFly finds himself transported back to 1955 in a time machine built by eccentric scientist Doc Brown. When he accidentally changes the course of history he finds himself in a race against time to fix the present, escape the past, and send himself back to the future.
Adapting this iconic story for the stage are the movie’s creators Bob Gale (“Back to the Future” trilogy) and Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump”). The production features original music by multi-Grammy-winners Alan Silvestri (“Avengers: Endgame”) and Glen Ballard (Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”), alongside hit songs from the movie including “The Power of Love”, “Johnny B Goode”, and “Back in Time”. Tony Award-winning director John Rando, who won for Best Direction of a Musical, leads the way.
The new musical lands at the Adelphi Theatre on 20 August, 2021. Click here to book tickets.
Beauty and the Beast
Enjoy a “tale as old as time” when “Beauty and the Beast” returns to UK and Irish stages in 2021, 26 years after it opened on Broadway. The story follows an arrogant, selfish young prince who is cursed to appear as a beast until he can find true love. He imprisons a young woman, Belle, in his castle, and with the help of his servants-turned-household-objects, Beast must learn to love Belle and earn her love in return to break the curse.
The musical's creative team were involved in the original Broadway 1994 production, which was nominated for nine Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Original score. Director and choreographer Matt West will join composer Alan Menken (“Aladdin”, “The Little Mermaid”, “Sister Act”) and lyricist Tim Rice (“The Lion King”, “Evita”) on this spectacularly reimagined new production.
The production returns in August, 2021, starting its performances in Bristol, then moving to Liverpool, Edinburgh, Cardiff, and Dublin. Click here to book tickets.
“For the first time in forever”, get excited and don your (hypothetical) woolly hats as Disney’s “Frozen” finally hits the West End this year. The new musical, based on the world-famous movie, celebrates the extraordinary story of two royal sisters, one with magic and one without, and their epic journey to save their kingdom from eternal winter through sacrifice, magic, and a different version of true love.
“Frozen” is brought to stage by an award-winning creative team, directed by Tony- and Olivier Award-winner Michael Grandage, and written by Academy- and BAFTA Award-winner Jennifer Lee. The show features the songs from the original film alongside new songs by Grammy- and Academy Award-winning writers Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, creators of the global phenomenon “Let It Go”.
Expect a star-studded cast of West End icons and movie stars including Samantha Barks (“Les Misérables” movie and West End, “Pretty Woman” Broadway) as Elsa, Stephanie McKeon (“The Commitments”, “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical”) as Anna, and Craig Gallivan (“School of Rock”) as loveable snowman Olaf.
The new musical has not hit the West End yet, so be amongst first to see it when it comes to Theatre Royal Drury Lane from 27 August, 2021. Click here to book tickets.
Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical
Celebrate the story of Bob Marley with the electrifying world premiere of “Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical”. Following the story of Jamaica’s global superstar, the production is infused with reggae songs that bring this triumphant tale of passion, political unrest, and progress from Trenchtown to the West End.
“Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical” features a multi-award-winning team including writer Lee Hall (“Billy Elliot”), director Clint Dyer (Deputy Artistic Director of the National Theatre), and Arinzé Kene (“Misty”, “Death of a Salesman”) as Bob Marley. Arinzé Kene was nominated for two Olivier Awards, including Best Actor, and won Best Male Actor in a Play at the Black British Theatre Awards for his play “Misty”. He has also been awarded an MBE for services to drama and screenwriting. Lee Hall won the Olivier Award for Best New Musical for “Billy Elliot”, and Clint Dyer has worked at the National Theatre as an actor, writer, and director.
“It’s not all that glitters is gold, half the story has never been told” – Bob Marley. So see for yourself when “Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical” starts at the Lyric Theatre from 1 October, 2021. Click here to book tickets.
The Lion King
Now in its 21st year in the West End, Disney’s award-winning musical “The Lion King” is the most successful musical of all time. Based on the beloved movie, “The Lion King” follows the story of lion cub Simba as he experiences loss of his hero, friendship in unlikely places, and a strength like no other, to enter his destined role as King of the Pridelands.
The musical has been seen by over 100 million people worldwide, and it has a plethora of awards under its belt. The original West End production was nominated for eight Olivier Awards, winning Best Choreographer and Best Costume Design, and the original Broadway production won Best Musical at the Tony Awards. It also won the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical, making director Julie Taymor the first woman to win.
Puppetry, stunning effects, and the enchanting music by Elton John, Tim Rice, and Lebo M all come together to make the legendary musical what it is. From “The Circle of Life” to “Hakuna Matata”, and the emotional rendition of “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”, you’ll get to hear every song you know and love from the classic Disney movie come to life.
The musical will welcome audiences back on 29 July, 2021, at the Lyceum Theatre. Click here to book tickets.
The Prince of Egypt
Based on the DreamWorks Animation movie, with award-winning music, “The Prince of Egypt” takes you on a journey through ancient Egypt as two young men, raised together as brothers in a kingdom of privilege, find themselves suddenly divided by a secret past. One must rule as Pharaoh, the other must rise up and free his true people.
With a huge cast and orchestra of almost 60 artists, “The Prince of Egypt” features “glorious” (WhatsOnStage) brand-new music from composer Stephen Schwartz (“Wicked”, “Godspell”) as well as his songs from the movie, including the international best-selling, Academy Award-winning “When You Believe”. Stephen Schwartz has won three Grammy Awards and three Academy Awards, and has been nominated for six Tony Awards for his music. With an “utterly stand-out cast”, the production “delivers in spades”, says WhatsOnStage.
"The Prince of Egypt" returns to the Dominion Theatre in London from 1 July, 2021. Click here to book tickets.
Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
From humble beginnings in Nutbush, Tennessee, to her transformation into the global Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Tina Turner didn’t just break the rules, she rewrote them. “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” reveals the untold story of a woman who dared to defy the bounds of her age, gender, and race.
This critically acclaimed show about one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time “leaves you breathless”, according to The Guardian — during her lifetime Tina Turner has won 12 Grammy Awards and she has sold more concert tickets than any other solo performer in music history. “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” has been nominated for a Black British Theatre Award for Best Musical, and Olivier and WhatsOnStage Awards for Best New Musical. The Times calls the musical “simply the best way to tell the story of Tina Turner”.
“Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” returns to the Aldwych Theatre on 3 June, 2021, and has extended its run until June, 2022. Click here to book tickets.