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  • Xi Ye

Top shows to see in London

Summer 2024 edition

Co-authored by Xi Ye, Olivia Cox, Isabella Thompson and Isabelle Hill

Working with London Box Office, the team at Operation Live Theatre brings to you our top recommendations for you to see this summer! Some of these will be very well known to frequent theatre goers, but there are also shows on a strictly limited run. Grab your tickets while you still have the chance!

It is near impossible to rank the following, and we have presented them in alphabetical order instead. We are a nice and very helpful bunch of people and have indicated the strictly limited runs to help you prioritise!

Babies - The Other Palace Theatre (strictly limited run)

What will happen if you give a class of sixteen year olds plastic robot baby simulators to teach them about adult responsibilities? Babies, a new(born) musical, will tell you all about it. Using the simulators as a medium, this musical explores parenthood, juggling responsibilities, insecurities, and teenage relationships as they embark on their journeys toward adulthood. 

This show ticks all the right boxes, with superb casting and pop-rock ear worms that exude boundless energy. It’s riotously funny, surprisingly tender, and an utterly delightful watch that certainly makes the grade. 

Cabaret - Kit kat Club at the Playhouse Theatre

2022 Laurence Olivier Awards Best Musical Revival - Winner

2024 Tony Awards Best Revival of a Musical- Nominated

Since the Kit Kat Club flung open its doors in 2021, Cabaret has become one of the hottest tickets on the West End. With each star-studded cast rotation, which currently includes Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’s Layton Williams and Heartstopper’s Rhea Norwood, audiences and critics alike have raved about this unique new production of the classic musical.

Boasting an immersive in-the-round experience complete with pre-show entertainment, as well as bewitching performances of iconic numbers including ‘Willkommen’ and ‘Maybe This Time’, Cabaret thoroughly deserves its reputation as one of London’s must-see shows at the moment.

Guys and Dolls - The Bridge Theatre

2024 Laurence Olivier Awards Best Musical Revival - Nominated

For a truly immersive retelling of one of Broadway’s most beloved musicals, head to Bridge Theatre to catch their groundbreaking production of Guys & Dolls. Set in Manhattan, the story follows a group of big shot gamblers and their “dolls” as the murky world of crap shooting games gets muddled with the tricky world of love and relationships.

It’s a one-of-a-kind theatrical experience with brilliant songs, exquisite costumes, and a whole lot of fun. Fans of the musical will love the immersive twist on the classic tale, while those who are new to Guys and Dolls will be sure to fall head over heels for this charming production.

Hadestown - Lyric Theatre

2019 Tony Award Best Musical - Winner

2023 Laurence Olivier Award Best Musical Revival - Nominated

Having taken Broadway by storm with its 2019 Tony Award-winning production, the West End transfer of Hadestown was hotly anticipated by musical theatre fans. Based on the Greek tragedy of Eurydice and Orpheus navigating the misery of the underworld, it’s a stirring tale about love and hope set to a captivating folk-inspired score. But if you’re not familiar with Greek mythology, no need to worry — the story is narrated by the delightful Hermes, who steers the story with empathy and ease.

With an on-stage band, sumptuous set design and powerhouse performances, Hadestown is an unmissable new addition to London’s theatre scene, and it’s completely different to any other on the West End right now. 

House of Life - Soho Theatre (strictly limited run)

Want to find true happiness? Join the Reverend at The House of Life to learn how in an all singing, all grooving hour of self expression, love and harmony. Combining preaching, live music, comedy and all round good vibes, you are guaranteed to walk away from this spectacle-come-religious experience with a spring in your step. 

Mean Girls - Savoy Theatre

2018 Tony Award Best Musical - Nominated

Based on the beloved 2004 movie and after celebrating a successful run on Broadway, Mean Girls the musical finally graces the London stage! Following Cady Heron’s transfer to North Shore High School from Africa, she struggles to fit into any of the school cliques before been adopted by her new best pals, Janice and Damian. However, she must learn to survive under the reign of the school’s apex predator, Regina George. 

Combining catchy tunes, slick stage design and choreography, this musical marks the triumphant debut of Mean Girls on the West End. The story about fitting in is as relevant today as it was 20 years ago. Watch out for this cautionary tale of friendship, love, and above all, a revenge party to end all parties! If this is your thing, just remember, we wear pink on Wednesdays! 

Next to Normal - Wyndham's Theatre (strictly limited run)

2009 Tony Award Best Musical - Nominated

2024 Laurence Olivier Awards Best New Musical - Nominated

One of the most nuanced and meaningful stage explorations into the impact of mental health, Next to Normal is one of the few musicals that have won a Pullitzer Prize for drama. It tells the story of Diana Goodman and how her mental conditions affect her family. Complicated by the limitations of confining mental health problems into pre-defined boxes and the risks of modern-day medicine, the script does not shy away from familial confrontations nor mask the impact of challenging topics such as addiction and self-harm. 

The cast is composed of critically acclaimed actors including Caissie Levy, Jamie Parker, Jack Wolfe and Eleanor Worthington-Cox, bringing these intricate and exceptionally well-developed characters to life. Forget heart wrenching, this show is set on shattering your very soul with its powerful dialogues and sensational rock music.

Operation Mincemeat - Fortune Theatre

2024 Laurence Olivier Awards Best New Musical - Winner

After a smashing success in Off West End venues, this British musical made its West End debut in 2023. It excels with its unique mix of historical events and comedy, offering a refreshingly witty take on a daring World War II operation.

The show features a myriad of catchy original songs and a vibrant, talented cast that keeps the audience thoroughly entertained. Its smart writing and precise direction maintain a consistently engaging atmosphere throughout, promising a thoroughly enjoyable experience for both history geeks and novices alike.

Standing at the Sky's Edge - Gillian Lynne Theatre (strictly limited run)

2023 Laurence Olivier Awards Best New Musical - Winner

Heartfelt, powerful and raw, Standing at the Sky’s Edge follows three generations of residents at the Park Hill estate in Sheffield from the 1960s until the present day. Through telling these personal stories, we learn of the history of modern Britain and its impact on the industrial North and explore the meaning of community and belonging. Set to an epic soundtrack by Richard Hawley, Chris Bush’s skilful and precise book shines and pulls on your heartstrings. You will be thinking about this musical for weeks afterwards. 

Two Strangers (Carry a Cake across New York) - Criterion Theatre (strictly limited run)

Rarely do we get to see a show title that perfectly captures the synopsis of the story. This is a tale of two strangers brought together by an unlikely event and how they help each other to realise their own worth and happiness. Does this sound familiar? That’s because it is. This musical capitalises on countless tropes used by more romantic comedies than I can name. However, this does not diminish its charm. 

It is a heartwarming and hilarious story that knows exactly what it aspires to be, embracing the cogs and gears that make the romcom genre tick. Presented by the dynamic duo that are Dujonna Gift and Olivier winner Sam Tutty, the cake they carry across New York is merely the icing on top of this tender story. 

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