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Five Theatre Shows to See in London this School Year (2023-2024)

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC London chapter.

If you’re like me, the start of the school year can mean many things, but it most certainly means the beginning of a new show-watching season! So what better way to open the 23-24 school year than with a list of the five absolute must-see shows this year in London!

  1. Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club– The Playhouse Theatre (Booking now till June 2024)

Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club is not a newly opened show, but it is one that most are still hearing about due to its killer cast, which previously included Eddie Reymond (from “Fantastic Beasts”), John McCree (from “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie”) and Aimee Lou Wood (from “Sex Education”). A revival of the original Cabaret Musical, this is a show that is immersive from the minute you step in the door. To enter the theatre, you go through a side entrance down into the basement, where you enter the well-known Kit Kat Club of Berlin on the eve of World War Two. When you arrive, you are asked to cover your phone camera to ensure what happens in the Kit Kat Club stays in the Kit Kat Club (a slogan pasted across the bathroom mirrors in case you forget).

 From the fantastic pre-show music and performance to the very beginning of the show, you’re immersed in the world of Cabaret. But it quickly becomes clear that the motto of “Life is Beautiful” is not as nice as it sounds in antebellum-era Germany. This show will leave you laughing, crying, and completely disturbed by the end; from the costumes to the acting to the stunning numbers, you will be left on the edge of your seat. Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club also offers a unique opportunity in its seating: the Table Seats. These round martini-styled tables around the stage are meant to immerse you in the experience further, offering  a dinner menu, cocktail service, and an opportunity to have the actors interact with you in a way that you don’t often get in other shows. It is chaotic, disturbing, and highly Shakespearean in its twisted nature- a must for anyone who wants to see something on the thought-provoking side. Cabaret tickets are rather hard to get and can be expensive, but luckily, the app TodayTix offers a daily lottery for 25-pound tickets (with fantastic seats- including the first row of the dress circle)!

  1.  Moulin Rouge!- The Piccadilly Theatre (Booking now till February 3 2024) 

If you’re looking for a night out without going to a club- why not go to a Moulin Rouge! At the Piccadilly Theatre? This show is a jukebox musical based on the cult classic movie of the same name directed by Baz Luhrmann, recently known for directing the biopic Elvis. The story follows Christian, an American writer, who upon his arrival to paris, is swept up in the Bohemia lifestyle. Upon heading to the best-known club in town -The Moulin Rouge- he meets Satine, the diamond of the club, a stunning singer and dancer. The classic love story is jam-packed with amazing and well-known numbers like Your Song (a personal favourite), Roxanne, Toxic, Bad Romance, and more. With early-2000s charm, this musical will keep you laughing. But what really sells this musical is the staging and dancing- the Piccadilly theatre and stage has been transformed from the moment you enter the auditorium. Moreover, the show’s dancing numbers are absolutely fantastic, particularly El Tango el Roxanne. It is a jaw-dropping performance. The show also offers a similar experience to Cabaret’s, with its Can-Can Seating. These small cocktail tables at the front of the show are meant to mimic the seating at the actual Moulin Rouge club in Paris. These are incredibly close to the action and often allow actors to focus on you in a way that you can’t get in the stalls. Moulin Rouge! is one of the hottest tickets since it arrived at the Piccadilly Theatre, and so it is on the expensive side. However, the theatre offers a weekly 25-pound lottery run through its website and also, on performance days at 10 a.m., several standing tickets are provided on its website.

  1.  My Neighbour Totoro- The Barbican Centre (November 21 2023- March 23 2024)

 My Neighbour Totoro is probably the only children-based theatre show on this list, but it is definitely a show everyone can enjoy- even those who haven’t watched the film. The story follows two sisters- Satsuki and Mei, who have just moved to a house in the Japanese countryside with their father to be closer to the hospital where their mother resides. However, Satsuki and Mei soon learn that their home and the forests surrounding it are home to all sorts of spirits, including the enormous Totoro- a fuzzy-looking creature that looks a lot like a cat and bear mixed together. The story is perfect for movie fans and anyone wanting to experience the joys of childhood imagination again. This show perfectly encapsulates what it is like to be a kid with a wild imagination- done incredibly in the past by its stellar leads and ensemble. This show uses puppets and set pieces in a way that is jaw-dropping and incredibly impressive in staging. It is a spectacular show with beautiful set pieces, an incredible orchestra, a live singer, and a beautifully crafted story about childhood imagination, grief, and family. My Neighbour Totoro is planned to return to the Barbican Centre Theatre after its sold-out international Premiere last year. The run has some remaining tickets; however, they will likely be gone soon! An excellent way to get to see this show is the 25-pound day tickets released online every single performance day at 10 a.m., these are front-row tickets and not to be missed!

  1. Macbeth- The Donmar Theatre (December 8 2023-February 10 2023):

 If you haven’t gotten around to seeing a Shakespearean play in London, you are seriously  missing out on these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and Macbeth at The Donmar Theatre is definitely one of those. This production most notable will have David Tennant, most known for his role in Doctor Who, as the title character. The Donmar is a non-profit in-the-round theatre that houses a limited 251 seats, so this production will undoubtedly be intimate, violent, and uncomfortably glorious. Most people will be familiar with the plot of Macbeth from school or otherwise, but if not, the cursed Scottish Play opens with the soldier Macbeth having just returned from battle with his companion Banquo. Upon returning, Macbeth and Banquo meet The Weird Sisters, three witches, who tell them a prophecy that Macbeth shall be King, while Banquo’s children and descendants shall also be Kings. What follows is a psychological horror of political plots, murder, dark magic, and the slow but inevitable descent into madness of Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth, played by Cush Jumbo Obe. If you love a good psychological horror movie, then Macbeth is 100% for you. The Donmar’s production is, unfortunately, already completely sold out. However, there are several other ways to still get tickets! Every performance day at 10 a.m., the Donmar website will release 15-pound standing tickets. There is also the chance to get Donmar Daily Tix, tickets released 7 days before a performance day at 10 a.m. online, and finally, you can sign up to their mailing list for further ticket release announcements. 

  1. Othello- The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse/The Globe Theatre (January 19- April 13)

If you know me at all in real life, you would know this was 100% going to be on my list. Othello at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is bound to be a violently intimate affair. Though most people know Othello in some capacity, many are only aware of the sheer disturbiness of this play once they are sitting in the audience watching it play out on stage. Othello follows the story of a general in the Venetian army, understood to be a POC and most often played by a Black man, as will be the case with this production. In the play, Othello is led to believe by his ensign, Iago, that his white wife, Desdemona, is unfaithful. The play does not end particularly happily, being one of Shakespeare’s tragedies, but it is probably one of his most disturbing ones- due to the play’s antagonist, Iago. This play is so well-crafted because practically nothing physical happens until the end. Yet, everything falls apart due to the powerful weapon that is language and how it is wielded by Iago. This production promises to be a particularly disturbing spectacle as it is performed in The Globe’s indoor theatre, The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (SWP), for its 10th anniversary. The SWP is famously known for being the last candlelit theatre in London, and there are few better ways to watch a Shakespearean tragedy than by candlelight. Othello is a play not to be missed, directed by Ola Ince, known for Romeo and Juliet at the Globe in the Summer of 2021. This promises to be a production that will radically push the play and comment on the racial and racist climate of our time. Othello tickets range from 25 to 65 pounds at full price. However, the Globe offers Standing tickets for 5 pounds, so you can enjoy the play in the way that those first-time watchers did some 400 years ago.

Though there are many other shows in London this year, these five offer a good range and a great start! For more information, you can check each show’s website and the Todaytix app for lottery and day seats for these shows and beyond! 

Noura Almane

UC London '24

I am an undergraduate student studying History. I grew up in Ontario, Canada, for most of my life but have moved around quite a bit to places like Dubai, Kuwait, Bristol, and more. I am interested in topics like educational reform and marginalized groups representation in media. My hobbies include reading, watching theatre, and book store browsing.