From West End favourites to brand new productions, there are a host of top musicals in London to see this month.
We’ve picked our favourites and divided them into five distinct London areas to help you make your decision.
Top musicals in London: West End
Bat Out Of Hell The Musical (London Coliseum) – Until 22 August
Motorbikes. Leather jackets. Rock anthems. All are rare sights at the home of the English National Opera. But this summer a new rock-tastic musical boasting big hair, drama and power ballads has arrived at the venue. Bat Out Of Hell The Musical brings Jim Steinman’s songs, which were made famous by Meat Loaf, to the stage. Rock. BOOK NOW
The Wind In The Willows (London Palladium)
Journey to the riverbank and follow the adventures of Mole, Ratty, Badger and the effervescent Mr Toad in this family musical. Comedian Rufus Hound plays Toad, whose passion for speed and gadgetry gets him into all manner of woodland scrapes. This new adaptation of the classic novel is written by Julian “Downton Abbey” Fellowes and features songs by Stiles and Drewe. Simon Lipkin, who plays Rat, tells us more. BOOK NOW
YANK! A WWII Love Story (Charing Cross Theatre) – Until 19 August
YANK! arrives in London following a hit run at Manchester’s Hope Mill Theatre. Its story and music come from the 1940s, as the world is gripped by the Second World War. But this is not so much a piece about fighting as one about two men finding love in the most unlikely situation.
What The Ladybird Heard (Lyric Theatre)
The summer has arrived, so the West End is filling with shows aimed at the kids. What The Ladybird Heard takes The Gruffalo writer Julia Donaldson’s picture book, fills it with theatricality and music, and brings the tale of a thief-thwarting beetle to the stage. Find out more in our Hear it first feature with Lydia Monks. BOOK NOW
The Adventures Of Pinocchio (Ambassadors Theatre) – Until 30 August
This is the first of two Pinocchio musicals in London this year (the second, featuring songs from the Disney film, will run at the National Theatre at Christmas). This show uses brand-new songs to tell the story of the wooden puppet who desperately wants to be a real boy.
The Hunting Of The Snark (Vaudeville Theatre)
Take the kids on an adventure to find a mythical creature at this show that brings Lewis Carroll’s poem to the stage. Join the Boy, the Butcher, the Baker and the crew on their quest, as they tunefully encounter the Bandersnatch, the Jub Jub Bird and more. Find out more in our Hear it first feature. BOOK NOW
Jesus Christ Superstar (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre) – From 11 August
The Open Air Theatre’s Olivier Award-winning production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical is resurrected for a second year. Declan Bennett (Jesus), Tyrone Huntley (Judas), David Thaxton (Pilate) and Peter Caulfield (Herod) all return with the hit production. If you missed this acclaimed show last summer, you’ve been given another chance. Take it. BOOK NOW
13 (Ambassadors Theatre) – From 16 August
Here’s an opportunity to see stars of the future. A cast who’re yet to reach their 13th birthdays perform Jason Robert Brown’s musical. Join Evan who, with his Bar Mitzvah approaching, has to leave his New York home and move to rural Indiana when his parents divorce. Goal number one? Just fitting in.
Follies (National Theatre) – From 22 August
On paper, this show is a musical theatre fan’s dream. Imelda Staunton, Janie Dee and Tracie Bennett – all Olivier Award winners – lead the cast. In Stephen Sondheim’s musical they play three former performers meeting up to reminisce 30 years after they last took a bow together. A cast of 37 present one of the must-see shows of the autumn.
Top musicals in London: North London
Happy (King’s Head Theatre) – 21 to 26 August
Playing as part of the King’s Head Theatre’s Queer Season, Happy is a musical about chemsex, needing to reconnect with the world, finding someone to believe in you, and finding hope and happiness.
Saro The Musical (Shaw Theatre) – 24 to 29 August
Saro The Musical arrives at the Shaw Theatre from Nigeria, presented by African theatre company Terra Kulture. The first major musical to be produced in Nigeria, it is the story of people striving for a better life in Lagos.
STOP (Cockpit Theatre) – From 30 August
A musical about mental illness, STOP features a magical bus stop (stay with me on this) where four people at turning points in their lives meet. Forced to wait together, the quartet take the time to talk through their issues, exposing their illnesses and laying their characters bare.
9 to 5 (Upstairs At The Gatehouse) – From 30 August
With summer coming to a close, put a spring in your step with a bit of Dolly Parton. This musical, based on the film of the same name, features a host of toe-tapping Parton hits and a story of three female co-workers who teach their boss a lesson.
Top musicals in London: South London
The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole The Musical (Menier Chocolate Factory)
Sue Townsend’s hit novel about the trials and tribulations of teenage life has been given a musical makeover. First staged in Leicester two years ago, the tale of Adrian, who struggles with parents, pimples, bullies and first love, has been reworked for its London debut. Find out more from co-creator Jake Brunger.
The Hired Man (Union Theatre) – Until 12 August
The Union Theatre revives Howard Goodall’s musical, inspired by Melvyn Braggs’s novel. As the century turns from the 1800s to the 1900s, a rural family battles to cope with changing times, especially when misguided affairs and war are thrown into the mix.
The Wedding Singer (Churchill Theatre) – 1 to 5 August
The hilarious stage adaptation of the Adam Sandler film comes to Bromley as part of a UK tour. Starring X-Factor’s Ray Quinn and musical-theatre favourites Jon Robyns and Cassie Compton, the ’80s-set tale follows New Jersey’s best wedding singer. Best, that is, until his own fiancée dumps him and everything starts to go wrong.
Frankenstein (Battersea Arts Centre) – 4 to 5 August
Beatbox, theatre and music come together in this experimental new take on Mary Shelley’s monster novel. A young cast use the classic Gothic story to explore the monsters of the 21st century.
Salad Days (Union Theatre) – From 16 August
The Union Theatre revives a musical they describe as “an absolute romp of polite naughtiness and saucy encounters”. Set in the 1950s, Salad Days is the story of recent graduates who while away a summer looking after a park’s piano. You can even get special picnic seats for the show if you fancy becoming part of the park setting on cushions and blankets.
Top musicals in London: West London
He Shoots! He Scores! (Above The Stag) – Until 20 August
Joe has just joined London’s worst gay football team. Not worried, he knows he’ll soon whip them into shape. But with an international gay football tournament on the horizon, the promise of hot guys in shorts is proving too much of a distraction for everyone.
Fantastic Mr Fox (Lyric Hammersmith) – Until 20 August
Roald Dahl’s farmer-taunting fox returns to the Lyric Hammersmith for a summer season. Join the cunning chap as he attempts to outwit a trio of angry farmers and save the lives of his family and friends.
From Page To Stage (Other Palace) – From 14 August
Not one show but many. And at the start of their lives. From Page To Stage is a festival of new musical theatre, offering audiences the chance to see versions of emerging shows in staged-reading, concert and showcase form. Headlining the festival is the one fully staged production, Some Lovers, a new piece from Spring Awakening’s Steven Sater and music legend Burt Bacharach.
Sunday In The Park With George (Other Palace) – 16 to 19 August
Not a musical at the start of its life, but musical performers at the start of their careers, as National Youth Music Theatre performs Stephen Sondheim’s musical. The Pulitzer Prize-winning piece blends past and present as it explores the life of pointillist artist Georges Seurat.
Five Guys Named Moe (Marble Arch Theatre) – From 29 August
Hit musical Five Guys Named Moe returns to London 25 years after its debut. Created by The Wire’s Clarke Peters, it uses Louis Jordan’s jazz hits to tell the story of downhearted Lomax. When his girlfriend dumps him, he is visited by a quintet of guys with the same name and the same intent who try to lift his spirits. BOOK NOW