A Guide To The Best Shows To Enjoy This Summer

We’ve teamed up with Theatre People to ensure our customers know what the best shows are to see this Summer, as well as the tastiest wines to enjoy with your pre-show dinner. When trying to decide which show to see, you’re met with a wall of choices, which is why we’ve asked our friends at Theatre People to make a few suggestions. After all, who would know better…..

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Enjoy A Vintage Summer Of London Theatre

It’s a hot night in Regent’s Park, and the expectant murmur of a summer season theatre audience fills the air. Reclining on the picnic lawn, you’re sharing a chilled Chablis with your loved one, drinking in the ambience and enjoying the wait until showtime. Then you’ll settle in to your seat, glass of wine in hand, and watch a world-class performance unfold.

This idyllic scenario is within easy reach of anyone who ventures into London this summer – and not just in the unique surroundings of Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. The West End is presently enjoying the most successful period in its history, boosted by new blockbuster musicals like The Book Of Mormon and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and chivvied along by a particularly strong current line-up of the other plays, musicals and comedies that London Theatreland is famous for.

Most West End theatres are gorgeous Victorian buildings with well-stocked bars, so if you fancy yourself as a bit of an aesthete with a discerning palette, that fact alone should be enough to propel you straight to Shaftesbury Avenue. That there’s a casefull of shows presently on stage that can provide the perfect complement to breezy, balmy summer evenings should serve as the clincher.

So order your interval drinks and peruse our top tips for sizzling summer shows, as recommended by the experts at TheatrePeople.com.

COMEDIES

The Importance Of Being Earnest Harold Pinter Theatre

Young Victorian gent Jack Worthing wrestles with the thorny issues of paternity and nomenclature as he strives to wed his sweetheart Gwendolen, while simultaneously attempting to avoid the glare of her terrifying mother Lady Bracknell. Assisting Jack in pursuit of his parental provenance in this effervescent, laugh-out-loud new production of Oscar Wilde’s classic farce is a killer cast headed by Martin Jarvis, Nigel Havers and Sian Phillips. Writer Simon Brett adds an apt and witty framing device that puts a refreshing spin on this oft-performed jewel.

Shakespeare In Love Noël Coward Theatre

It seemed inevitable that a much-loved movie about the world’s greatest playwright should eventually migrate to the theatre. Sure enough, Tom Stoppard and Lee Hall’s glorious romantic comedy Shakespeare in Love has opened in time for summer, and it’s fantastic. Tom Bateman stars as Will Shakespeare and Lucy Briggs-Owen as Viola De Lesseps in this sumptuous production, in which a debt-stricken, writer’s blocked young Bard finds his muse in the form of passionate noblewoman De Lesseps, who inspires him to write the greatest love story of all time: Romeo and Juliet.

MUSICALS

The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Parke and Murray’s respectful adaptation of George and Ira Gershwin’s jazz opera retains the essence of the original while giving a contemporary spin to its dialogue and racial characterisation. It also opts for a more intimate scale of production, which helps to make the show even fresher and accessible to modern audiences, as confirmed by the two Tony Awards it won in 2012, including Best Revival of a Musical. There’s no better place to see it this summer than in the glorious, bucolic atmosphere of the Regent’s Park Open Air.

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Once Phoenix Theatre

Having won plaudits as Baby in last year’s lovably cheesy West End revival of Dirty Dancing, Californian actress Jill Winternitz shows her softer, more serious side as Girl in Once. She’s joined by David Hunter as Guy in this uniquely tender play-with-music, which is no less than London’s ultimate summer date night show. Set in a Dublin bar, Once traces the will-they-won’t-they romance of an Irish busker and a Czech songwriter with understatement and subtlety, its unique staging inviting you into the action and making you feel as though you know the characters personally.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Theatre Royal, Drury Lane

One of the West End’s biggest success stories in recent memory, Sam Mendes’ spectacular musical version of Roald Dahl’s best-loved children’s story features a chocolate garden, a squadron of squirrels and an army of Oompa-Loompas amid the most eye-popping, jaw-dropping sets you’ve ever seen. When the brilliant Alex Jennings recently stepped into the role of Willy Wonka, this already dazzling show got even better. Glorious, joyful, funny and kinetic, Charlie’s got the seasonal uplift you’ve been looking for and – whisper it – it not really just for kids.

PLAYS

Bakersfield Mist Duchess Theatre

Hollywood A-lister Kathleen Turner and Star Wars’ very own Senator Palpatine Ian McDiarmid star in a brilliantly abrasive comedy-drama that pitches a working class woman against a snooty art dealer in a battle to evaluate a painting presumed to be by modern master Jackson Pollock. Razor-sharp writing and witheringly funny performances from both leads make this a wholly satisfying night out with a lingering aftertaste of star power.

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The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time Gielgud Theatre

Unforseen circumstances led to Marianne Elliott’s highly acclaimed production of The Curious Incident having its run abruptly curtailed at the Apollo Theatre in late 2013, but it’s just reopened at the West End’s Gielgud Theatre in time for summer, as ingenious and compelling as ever. It’s based on Mark Haddon’s award-winning 2003 novel about 15 year-old Christopher Boone, who uses facts, forensics and systemised data (a symptom of his autistic-like behaviour) to launch an investigation into finding the killer of his neighbour’s dog. If you haven’t seen it yet, now’s the time.

Richard III Trafalgar Studios

In a volte-face from his usual nice-guy roles in The Office, The Hobbit and Sherlock, Martin Freeman stars as Shakespeare’s hunchbacked, Machiavellian monarch, in a 1970s-set production directed by Jamie Lloyd, whose other recent hits include Macbeth with James McEvoy and The Commitments. Gina McKee is a compelling Queen Elizabeth in Lloyd’s iconoclastic production, which may not have the sunshiney fluff of a Mamma Mia! but is still far more likely to induce a summer of satisfaction than a winter of discontent.

For more information about these shows and to book theatre tickets, visit www.theatrepeople.com

 

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