Top post-lockdown theatre picks

Miriam Sallon 2 July 2021

After over a year of online one-man monologues and recordings of old productions rehashed, theatre is finally back in business

Here’s a guide to the shows we’re most excited about. Take a look and get booking with Reader’s Digest Tickets.

LONDON

Anything Goes: Barbican, Fri Jul 23 2021—Sun Oct 17 2021

Tony award-winning Sutton Foster leads the pack in this definitive musical masterpiece. With a score by Cole Porter and story by PG Wodehouse, this is pure high-kicking, jazz-handed revelry—just the thing to shake off those lockdown cobwebs and get yourself back in the theatre groove.

Carousel: Regents Park Open Air, Sat July 31 2021—Sat September 25 2021

An ideal location to ease us out of lockdown, Regents Park Open Air is not only a uniquely charming setting, it’s also, as the name would suggest, outdoors. Boasting a whole new season of shows, including the Rogers and Hammerstein musical Carousel, expect exciting adaptations, extravagant designs, and cream-of-the-crop talent across the board, all while enjoying a jug of Pimm's in the heart of Regents Park.

Bach & Sons: Bridge Theatre, Wed June 23 2021—Sat September 11 2021

Nina Raine, Simon Russell Beale and Nicholas Hytner combine to create somewhat of a theatre supergroup in the debuting Bach & Sons. Telling the story of Johann Sebastian Bach and his family, all musically gifted in their own right, Raine’s new script promises both depth and levity, and, knowing the Bridge Theatre, excellent production value.

Constellations: Vaudeville Theatre, Fri June 18 2021 – Sun September 12 2021

Having won Best Play in 2012, and debuted on Broadway in 2015 with Jake Gyllenhaal, Nick Payne’s Constellations returns to the West End. A sliding-door story of multiple possibilities and outcomes, four sets of couples will take turns to perform, reinterpreting and reinvigorating the story each time.

The cast includes such household names as Zoe Wanamaker and Chris O’Dowd, as well as major rising stars Omaria Douglas (Wise Children, It’s A Sin) and Sheila Atim (Girl from the North Country, The Underground Railroad).

Bagdad Café: Old Vic, Sat Jul 17 2021—Sat Aug 21 2021

Emma Rice’s latest undertaking, Bagdad Café is an adaptation of the 1987 movie by the same name, telling a story of hope and camaraderie. Expect the usual tell-tales of an Emma Rice production: casual triple threats, bold, garish design, and that impossible marriage of seediness and naivety that makes her so completely inimitable.

REGIONAL

A Little Night Music: Buxton Opera House, Thu Jul 8 2021—Sat Jul 24 2021

For the first time, the Buxton International Festival bill includes a musical. Starring the immensely talented Janie Dee, A Little Night Music follows the stories of various romantic couplings as they entangle and unravel, with Sondheim’s trademark repartee and whimsy.

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof: Leicester Curve (Before national tour), Fri Sep 3 2021—Sat Sept 18 2021

Rising star Anthony Almeida is set to direct a bold, new interpretation of Tennessee William’s classic story. A family drama fraught with power struggles and deep repression, Cat on A Hot Tin Roof is also wickedly funny.

Four Quartets: Theatre Royal Bath (Before national tour) Mon Jun 14 2021—Sat Jun 26 2021

Ralph Fiennes will direct and star in T S Elliot’s renowned Four Quartets. It seems particularly timely in its meditations on national crisis, as Eliot wrote three of the four poems during the Blitz. He famously said of this work that you needn't understand poetry to appreciate it, though regardless of how true that is, with Fiennes’ great talents it’s sure to be a masterpiece whether we catch every allusion and introspection or no.

TOURING

The Greatest Play In The History Of The World, Beginning June 2021

Originally produced in association with the Royal Exchange in Manchester, Ian Kershaw’s one-woman play has graced both the Edinburgh Fringe and London stages and is now enjoying a short regional tour. Julie Hesmondhalgh takes us on an epic journey through space and time to reveal the importance of small kindnesses and human connection. Both compelling and comforting, this is such a treat of a performance.

Singin’ In the Rain, Beginning March 2022

After a limited five-week run at Sadler’s Wells, Jonathan Church’s much acclaimed production will begin its UK tour, bringing with it Simon Higlett’s exuberant design, including five metric tonnes of water for each performance, as well as MGM’s original score from the hit movie—“Good Morning”, “Make ‘Em Laugh” and of course the title number. Two hours of pure joy.

Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker, Beginning November 2021

Making a long-awaited come-back after ten years, Bourne’s Nutcracker combines lavish sets and costumes with glorious choreography and brilliant wit. This is a spectacular for the whole family, and the perfect festive show to bring everyone together.

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