Theatre Bee's watchlist for the season
Feeling spoilt for choice? With an abundance of plays and musicals to choose from, you'll never be short of options for what to watch at the theatre in London. Whether you're looking for something classic or cutting-edge, there's something for everyone, but it can be overwhelming to navigate the hundred or so shows that come up in any listing or booking website. To help you plan your springtime theatre visits, here is Theatre Bee's own list of plays and musicals that the bee is watching in the coming weeks. Reviews for these shows will be published after the bee has had a chance to watch them. If the bee has something to say about them, that is.
Disclaimer: The show titles below link to the official show website so that you get the latest show descriptions, cast and creative listings, show dates and timings, but bear in mind that the official site may not be the cheapest place to buy tickets. Also, if you come across a broken link below, it's most likely because the show has ended its run (for those of you stumbling upon this blog long after spring 2023).
New and noteworthy at the West End
Tennessee Williams' most popular play (and in the bee's opinion, his darkest and most unsettling one) opens at the Phoenix Theatre on 20 March 2023 for a six week run, following a hugely successful run at Almeida Theatre. Tickets are fully sold out, as was the case with the initial Almeida Theatre run (the bee was unsuccessful in procuring tickets despite repeated attempts), but a little bird told me that more tickets are being released on Monday the 13th of March 2023 at 1 PM on the official website. Go, go, go!
For your fix of high-budget, high-production-value, television-inspired musical theatre, The Great British Bake Off Musical takes after the eponymous TV series and features scrumptious desserts, heart-warming friendships and joyous songs as it takes you through a season of the celebrated TV show, musical theatre style.
Last chance to catch these limited run shows
If you want to watch a worldwide hit musical with a number of prestigious awards to its credit and 50 million copies of this best-selling album sold to date, Bat Out of Hell - an epic tale of love, passion, youth, rebellion and an electrifying rollercoaster ride of emotion - is on a limited run until 1 April 2023.
If you haven't watched it yet, you have until 20 May 2023 to catch this iconic, unmissable classic. Aaron Sorkin's adaptation of Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird is a play packed with heightened emotion, moral quandaries and heart-wrenching tragedy. Each actor in this show is spectacular and deserves a standing ovation for their distinctive performances. A state-of-the-nation play that rivetingly exposes the cultural zeitgeist in 1936, a period that is especially significant because it is caught between a rock and a hard place (the Great Depression just a few years before, and the Second World War to follow shortly after). For more of the bee's rants and reflections on this story, check out the bee's review of To Kill A Mockingbird.
Adapted from the lovely eponymous novel by Neil Gaiman (which, by the way, was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book Awards), this National Theatre production of The Ocean at the End of the Lane is one of the bee's favourite plays in London. The bee watched it back in December 2021 in London at the Duke of York's Theatre, just days before the production concluded its run. Having squinted at the stage from an awful grand circle seat with half the stage obstructed from view, the bee has waited a long while for a redemption viewing, and is thrilled that the show is coming back to London, playing at the New Wimbledon Theatre from 11 through 15 April 2023 as part of its UK tour. Unmissable, this is an epic tale of fantasy, memory, dreams, imagination and a childlike sense of unbounded possibility.
Top Off West End picks
The bee's Off West End and fringe theatre watchlist, in no particular order.
As the title suggest, an anarchist has fallen to his death, supposedly accidentally. The play depicts a riotous satire of the police investigation that follows, exposing the myriad ways in which the institution is compromised and in free-fall.
A blockbuster hit musical about Broadway, set in Broadway, the current revival of the 1950s musical Guys and Dolls at Bridge Theatre is being marketed as "immersive" (the bee does not know what that means, but it sees that there are standing tickets for those who want to be fully "immersed" into the experience, sort of like a splash zone in a theme park). Intrigued?
A young entrepreneur starts an app that will become a multi-billion dollar ride-hailing firm in under a decade, with operations in hundreds of cities around the world. Does the company become what it is today because of, or despite, the delusions of grandeur suffered by its founder-CEO? Bearing heavy resemblance to the story of Uber, Brilliant Jerks is a beautifully layered narrative about the stories of three employees of this company - a driver, a programmer and the CEO himself - and how their life circumstances collide with their work.
The official description calls it "feminist pop-punk" and states this musical is about "love, loss and lubrication" with "unapologetically badass feminism". Further, the format of the show is such that audience members are able to leave and come back as they please, even in the middle of the performance. Naturally, the bee's curiosity was piqued. It is a bold experiment and the bee looks forward to it.
People change over the years but most people still retain a core blueprint of themselves. Or do they? If you have ever encountered the difficulty of reconciling your memory of a loved one with what they are today, you may appreciate Akedah, a story of a woman reconnecting with her sister after three years only to discover that a massive reconciliation is needed between her sister and her memory of her sister.