The 16 hottest new plays and musicals to see this summer (2024)

Mnemonic

The ice-man cometh again: Complicité’s 1999 marvel about memory, technology and identity, part-inspired by the 1991 discovery of Europe’s oldest known natural mummy (Ötzi), is resurrected by Simon McBurney with a few old faces (Complicité stalwart Tim McMullan) among the new (Khalid Abdalla, who was Dodi Fayed in The Crown).

National’s Olivier Theatre, London SE1 (nationaltheatre.org.uk), July 2 – Aug 10

A Chorus Line

A remounting of a five-star triumph for Nikolai Foster at Curve during the pandemic; what might have seemed like a mid-Seventies museum piece (with a score by Marvin Hamlisch) about auditioning Broadway hopefuls, attains a brutal glamour and knock-out force.

Curve, Leicester (curveonline.co.uk), July 8 –13; then at Sadler’s Wells, London EC1 (sadlerswells.com), July 31 –Aug 25

Shakespeare Live

Starry actors including Paul Chahidi, Damian Lewis, Derek Jacobi, Stephen Mangan and Tracy-Ann Oberman open the Complete Works hamper to bring forth a one-off feast of speeches, scenes and other delights.

Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park, London NW1 (openairtheatre.com), July 8

Slave Play

A West End run for Jeremy O Harris’ name-making 2018 play about identity, desire and the legacy of slavery as it affects three inter-racial couples undergoing physically and emotionally revealing “Antebellum Sexual Performance Therapy”.

Cebelrities to have seen the show in New York include Madonna and Whoopi Goldberg. In London, the cast includes Kit Harington and Olivia Washington.

Noel Coward Theatre, London WC2 (slaveplaylondon.com), July 10 – Sept 21

Chariots of Fire

Robert Hastie directs Mike Bartlett’s adaptation of the 1981 Oscar-winning Colin Welland film telling the story of Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell’s bids for British athletic glory at the 1924 Paris Olympic Games.

Crucible Sheffield (sheffieldtheatres.co.uk), July 11 – 27

ECHO (Every Cold Hearted Oxygen)

Nassim Soleimanpour’s tricksy play about immigration and belonging requires a new performer at every show to take on its script unprepared and journey through the story of its author; those signed-up already include Toby Jones, Meera Syal and Fiona Shaw.

Royal Court, London SW1 (royalcourttheatre.com), July 17 – 27

Hello, Dolly!

Jerry Herman’s evergreen 1964 Broadway smash about the enjoyably meddling New York matchmaker, Dolly Levi, is back where it belongs – the West End, after being delayed for four years by Covid, among other factors. Recently made a dame, Imelda Staunton takes the lead, with direction from Dominic Cooke.

The London Palladium, W1 (hellodollyldn.com), July 18 – Sept 14

Oliver!

Lionel Bart’s dependably delightful take on the Dickens classic – arguably the best British musical of the 20th century – is reborn (and revised by Cameron Mackintosh) in a new production by Matthew Bourne, with the West End beckoning this winter. Simon Lipkin is fa*gin.

Chichester Festival Theatre (cft.org.uk), July 24 – Sept 7; then at the Gielgud Theatre, London W1 (oliverthemusical.com), from Dec 14

The Grapes of Wrath

Greg Hicks and Cherry Jones lead a sizeable ensemble that aims to bring to life John Steinbeck’s remorseless vision of Depression-era Oklahoman farmers (courtesy of Frank Galati’s Tony-winning adaptation).

National’s Lyttelton Theatre, London SE1 (nationaltheatre.org.uk), July 25 – Sept 14

The Outrun

Amy Liptrot’s bestselling memoir about returning to the Orkney sheep farm where she grew up after unravelling in London gets adapted for the stage by Stef Smith; Vicky Featherstone directs. Part of the Edinburgh International Festival.

Lyceum, Edinburgh (lyceum.org.uk), July 31 – Aug 24

The Sound Inside

Adam Rapp’s multi Tony-nominated play about a creative writing professor “captivated by a brilliant, rebellious student”. An early highlight of the Edinburgh Fringe.

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh (traverse.co.uk), until Aug 25

Fiddler on the Roof

Expect above-average levels of grit for this sometimes cosy-fied classic musical of life in an Eastern European shtetl, circa 1905, with Adam Dannheisser taking the role made famous by Chaim Topol of Tevye, the milkman with daughters marriageable and mutinous.

Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park, London NW1 (openairtheatre.com), August 6 – Sept 21

Pericles

Shakespeare’s baggy but beautiful late play of epic migration marks the RSC directorial debut of its co-artistic director, Tamara Harvey – that pressure eased by the reassuring presence of the ever-excellent Alfred Enoch as the fugitive prince.

Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon (rsc.org.uk), August 7 – Sept 21

The Birthday Party

Richard Jones, fresh from success with Machinal, directs Pinter’s early (initially derided) masterpiece with Jane Horrocks playing the nice-but-dim seaside landlady Meg, a surrogate mother figure to the twitchy, hunted Stanley.

Ustinov Studio, Theatre Royal Bath (theatreroyal.org.uk), until Aug 7 – 31

Hamlet

Peruvian company Teatro La Plaza’s look at Shakespeare’s greatest play from the perspective of eight actors who have Down’s Syndrome.Part of the Edinburgh International Festival.

Lyceum, Edinburgh (lyceum.org.uk), Aug 15 – 17

The 16 hottest new plays and musicals to see this summer (2024)
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