Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

A Guide To Theatres Reopening: Plays & Musicals To Book Now

Culture /

All hail the cultural comeback

This post may contain affiliate links. Learn more


Longing for some real-life culture after months of looking at screens? Fear not: live theatre is set to return to the capital this May thanks to new guidelines allowing socially distanced performances. Here we bring you all the latest on the plays, musicals and operas to book now.

Best Plays & Musicals To Book Now

Wyndham’s Theatre

Leopoldstadt, Wyndham's Theatre

Tom Stoppard’s Olivier award-winning Leopoldstadt received its world premiere in January 2020, but then lockdown happened, meaning the play couldn’t finish its planned 20-week run. It’s back this August though, running for 12 weeks at Wyndham’s Theatre. Leopoldstadt tells the story of a Jewish family in Vienna across six decades – described by Stoppard as his most personal play. 7 August – 30 October,

National Youth Theatre’s Animal Farm

National Youth Theatre, Animal Farm

Helen Murray

Eco-minded Tim Ashton built The Sanctuary Theatre on his farm as a response to the struggles faced by the performing arts industry because of the pandemic. This June, the outdoor theatre is – fittingly – playing host to the National Youth Theatre’s production of Animal Farm. Award-winning playwright Tatty Hennessy has adapted George Orwell’s classic for the stage, starring some of Britain’s best young talent. 16 – 19 June 2021,

Bridge Theatre

Bach & Sons, Bridge Theatre

Booking is now open for the world premiere of Nina Raine’s Bach & Sons, directed by Nicholas Hytner and showing at the Bridge Theatre. The play tells the story of turbulent musician Johann Sebastian Bach, delving into his family dramas and exploring themes of love, God and music. 23 June – 9 September 2021,

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Craig Sugden

Hailing the return of outdoor performances is Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, which has just confirmed its 2021 season. This will kick off with extended runs of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Kimberley Sykes, followed by Carousel by Timothy Sheader. The theatre will also be hosting a number of outdoor events such as comedy gigs and a 20th anniversary screening of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! by The Luna Cinema alongside The Shining.

Chichester Festival Theatre

Chichester Festival Theatre

The summer musical for Chichester Festival Theatre has been announced as much-loved award-winning musical Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific. The production first opened in 1949, and has since become one of Broadway’s longest running hit shows. Set on a South Pacific island during World War 11, the musical is based on James Michener’s collection of short stories, Tales of the South Pacific. It tells the story of Nellie Forbush, a navy nurse from Arkansas, who finds herself falling for the mysterious French plantation owner, Emile de Becque. Chichester Festival Theatre’s new production is directed by Daniel Evans, with a cast featuring Gina Beck, Julian Ovenden, Emile de Becque and Joanna Ampil. 5 July – 4 September 2021,

Kiln Theatre

Kiln Theatre

Philip Vile

Opening for the first time since the first lockdown in March 2020, Kiln Theatre is back this May with a stellar season of new work. This includes three world premières: Reasons You Should(n’t) Love Me by Amy Trigg, NW Trilogy by Moira Buffini, Suhayla El-Bushra and Roy Williams, and The Wife of Willesden, adapted by Zadie Smith from Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath. A major revival of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar’s The Invisible Hand is also on the cards. Reopening 21 May,

National Theatre

National Theatre

The National Theatre will be reopening in June with After Life, a new play based on the film by Hirokazu Kore-eda. Written by Jack Thorne, the production is a surreal look at the way we live our lives, asking the audience: who would you choose to live with for eternity? Later in the month, the recently transformed Olivier theatre will welcome visitors again to see Under Milk Wood, a play by Dylan Thomas featuring additional material by Siân Owen. Both productions will run until 24 July, with social distancing in place. After Life, 2 June – 24 July,  Under Milk Wood, 16 June – 24 July,

Hampstead Theatre

Hampstead Theatre The Death of a Black Man

Having originally premiered there in 1975, Alfred Fagon’s The Death of a Black Man is returning to the Hampstead Theatre this May. Almost 50 years on, it remains equally – if not more – compelling viewing, raising many of the same questions we face today surrounding identity, capitalism and sexual politics. Nickcolia King-N’da, Natalie Simpson and Toyin Omari-Kinch will all feature in the cast. Then, in June, Hampstead Downstairs will reopen with the world premiere of Raya, a new play from Deborah Bruce which questions whether it is possible to turn back time, even if it’s just for one night. The Death of a Black Man, 28 May – 10 July 2021; Raya, 11 June – 24 July 2021,

Shakespeare’s Globe

The Globe Theatre

Getty Images

For the first time, audiences at Shakespeare’s Globe will be invited to sit rather than stand in its famous yard, as part of a new socially distanced format for plays. The theatre will reopen with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, followed by productions of Romeo & Juliet and Twelfth Night. Other measures will include staggered arrival times, pre-ordered drinks and allocated entrances.

Ralph Fiennes’ Four Quartets

Ralph Fiennes, Four Quartets

Matt Humphrey

T.S. Eliot wrote the majority of Four Quartets during WW1, when playhouses were closed as a result of the Blitz. Made up of four interwoven meditations – Burnt Norton, East Coker, The Dry Salvages and Little Gidding – the work explores themes of time, nature, spirituality, war and mortality, offering reflections on surviving periods of national crisis. Fitting, then, that Ralph Fiennes is celebrating the return of theatres post-lockdown with a new rendition of the epic poem, launching at Theatre Royal Bath this May. Four Quartets runs at the Theatre Royal Bath (01225 448844), from May 25 to June 5; then at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton (01604 624811), from June 8-12.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Apollo Theatre

Everybody's Talking About Jamie

Matt Crockett

It’s easy to feel gloomy at the moment, but a trip to see Everybody’s Talking About Jamie will help boost spirits. The award-winning feel-good musical returns to the West End this month, starring Noah Thomas as Jamie New. From 20 May,

Doctor Who: Time Fracture

Doctor Who Time Fracture

A brand-new immersive theatrical experience is landing in the capital next February, plunging fans into the universe of Doctor Who. Created by the team behind The Great Gatsby – the UK’s longest running immersive show – Doctor Who: Time Fracture will take place at a former military drill hall dating back to 1890. The subject matter, though, sits in the future: audiences will meet Daleks, Cybermen, Time Lords and many more otherworldly characters as they travel across space and time. Opening spring 2021,

Main Image: Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre


The Best Art Exhibitions in London / Outdoor Culture Guide 2021