The theatre shows you won’t want to miss in 2018

From Aidan Turner and Vanessa Kirby in starring roles to two heavyweight productions of Macbeth and a new musical about the assassination of Katie Hopkins – there’s much theatre to look forward to around the UK in 2018.

West End highlights

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  • The big draw in 2018 could be Poldark star Aidan Turner (above), who’s making his West End debut in Martin McDonagh’s terrorism satire The Lieutenant of Inishmore, directed by Michael Grandage at the Noel Coward Theatre (23 June – 8 September).
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  • Harry Potter and How to Get Away with Murder star Alfred Enoch (above) will join Alfred Molina in Red, about the painter Mark Rothko and his assistant, at the Wyndham’s Theatre (4 May – 28 July).
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Image caption Adrienne Warren (right) joined Tina Turner at the London launch of Nutbush
Image copyright Alastair Muir
  • Baz Luhrmann and Drew McOnie’s Strictly Ballroom – based on the 1992 film – will sashay into the Piccadilly Theatre (16 March – 21 July).
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  • Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe (above) will bring their Tony Award-winning revival of The King and I to the Palladium (21 June – 5 August).

Headline acts

Image copyright Nottingham Playhouse
  • Sherlock and The League of Gentlemen’s Mark Gatiss (above) will be in his element in Alan Bennett’s The Madness of George III at Nottingham Playhouse (2-17 November).
Image copyright Reuters
  • The Crown actress Vanessa Kirby (above) will leave Buckingham Palace to star in Julie, Polly Stenham’s modern-day update of August Strindberg’s tragedy Miss Julie at the National Theatre (from June).
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  • Also at the National, Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo (above) will play Shakespeare’s iconic lovers Antony and Cleopatra (from September).
Image copyright David Stewart
  • Katherine Parkinson (above), of The IT Crowd and Doc Martin fame, will play a 1950s housewife in Laura Wade’s dark comedy Home, I’m Darling at Theatr Clwyd in Mold, north Wales(25 June – 14 July).
Image copyright Reuters
  • Jim Broadbent (above) will play Hans Christian Andersen in the “dangerous, twisted and funny” A Very, Very, Very Dark Matter, a new play by Martin McDonagh at the Bridge in London (10 Oct – 29 Dec).

Macbeth v Macbeth

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  • Christopher Eccleston and Niamh Cusack (above) will star as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth for the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon (13 March – 18 September).
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  • Meanwhile in London, Rory Kinnear and Anne-Marie Duff (above) will play Shakespeare’s power couple in a rival production of Macbeth at the National Theatre (26 February – 12 May).

Britain’s busiest playwright?

Image copyright Johan Persson
  • James Graham will have his fourth West End show in little over a year when Quiz – his dramatisation of the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? coughing case – transfers to the Noel Coward Theatre from the Chichester Festival Theatre (31 March – 16 June).
  • He’s got another new play opening at Hull’s Truck – The Culture is a behind-the-scenes satire of Hull’s year as UK City of Culture (26 Jan – 17 Feb).

Britain’s second busiest playwright?

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  • Bryony Lavery has two plays opening in two consecutive nights in February. A revival of her 1998 drama Frozen (no, not Disney), starring Suranne Jones and Jason Watkins (above), officially opens at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on 20 February (to 5 May).
  • Then her adaptation of Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock has its press night at York Theatre Royal the following night (to 3 March, then touring).

History girls

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  • The centenary of women’s suffrage will be marked with a fascinating revival of Votes For Women by Elizabeth Robins (above) at the New Vic in Newcastle-under-Lyme (6-24 March). The landmark play was first staged in 1907 – 11 years before women won the vote.
  • The 1984-5 miners’ strike has inspired Queens of the Coal Age by Maxine Peake (above) at the Royal Exchange in Manchester (28 June – 21 July) and Chicken Soup at Sheffield Crucible (9 February – 3 March), which follows the lives of three women from 1984 to today.
  • In her first full programme as director of National Theatre of Wales, Kully Thiarai is marking the NHS’s 70th birthday with six shows telling the stories of patients and practitioners.

High drama

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  • Sam Mendes (above) will direct an English version of Italian writer Stefano Massini’s acclaimed five-hour play The Lehman Trilogy, which follows the rise and fall of Lehman Brothers. At the National (from July).
  • The Inheritance, directed by Stephen Daldry, is about life as a young gay man in New York. The Young Vic bills it as “a major world premiere” and a “hilarious and profound heart-breaker” (2 March – 5 May).
  • After writing BBC One’s Murdered By My Father, Vinay Patel has created An Adventure, following the upheavals of an Indian couple who make their way to London in the mid-20th Century (6 September – 20 October).
Image copyright Royal Exchange
  • Black Men Walking is inspired by the conversations of a black men’s walking group in the Peak District and promises to “turn a spotlight onto Britain’s missing histories”. It opens at the Royal Exchange (18 Jan – 3 Feb) before a UK tour.
  • Writer Joe Penhall (Netflix’s Mindhunter) and director Roger Michell (Notting Hill) team up for Mood Music, about songwriters, lawyers and psychotherapists arguing in a recording studio. At the Old Vic (21 April-30 June).

From page to stage

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  • Books being adapted in 2018 include Paula Hawkins’ (above) best-seller The Girl on the Train, which gets its premiere at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds (12 May – 9 June). There’s no word on who will play Rachel, or indeed how they will get a train on stage.
  • The same theatre will adapt Lisa Genova’s Still Alice (9 February – 3 March), starring The Inspector Lynley Mysteries actress Sharon Small. It’s the centrepiece of Every Third Minute, their theatre and dementia festival.
  • Patrick Ness’s award-winning children’s novel A Monster Calls will be brought to life at the Bristol Old Vic (31 May – 16 June).
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  • The Fishermen, the Booker Prize-nominated novel by Chigozie Obioma, (above) will be adapted by Nigerian writer Gbolahan Obisesan for touring company New Perspectives. It starts at Home in Manchester (19-28 July).
  • And the audience will be offered samples of food when cookery writer Nigel Slater’s memoir Toast is brought to the stage at The Lowry in Salford (22-28 May).

From screen to stage

Image copyright Tiger Aspect
Image caption The TV cast of Benidorm with Sherrie Hewson (centre), Janine Duvitski (second from back) and Adam Gillen (back right)
  • TV comedies being brought to the stage include ITV’s Benidorm, which begins a tour starring Sherrie Hewson, Janine Duvitski and Adam Gillen at the Newcastle Theatre Royal (7-15 Sept, then on tour).
  • Craig Cash and Phil Mealey’s pub sitcom Early Doors will return at The Lowry (29 August – 15 September).
  • Fleabag is hitting the road – starring Maddie Rice instead of Phoebe Waller-Bridge though. At the Soho Theatre (8-18 Jan) then on tour.
  • A musical version of time-travel comedy Goodnight Sweetheart will launch at the Brookside Theatre in Romford, Essex (13-22 September).

New musicals find their voices

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  • Lots more musicals are launching away from the West End – including Fun Home, based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir. It won five Tony Awards in 2015 and is moving to the Young Vic (18 June – 1 September).
Image copyright Mark Savage/Northern Stage
  • Sting’s The Last Ship (Sting pictured) is coming home to have its UK premiere at Newcastle’s Northern Stage (12 March – 7 April), before a UK tour.
  • A new musical adaptation of the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman will get its premiere at the Leicester Curve (6-21 April).
Image copyright PA
  • The life of theatrical pioneer Joan Littlewood (above) is being given the musical treatment by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Miss Littlewood (22 June – 4 August).
  • Manchester’s musical powerhouse Hope Mill Theatre will set the highs and lows of mid-life dating to song with The Toyboy Diaries, adapted from Wendy Salisbury’s book (18 Jan – 10 Feb).
  • The National Theatre of Scotland will stage My Right Foot, a musical satire about attitudes to disabled people, at the Edinburgh Fringe (1-28 August).
Image copyright Getty Images
  • And finally, we’ll witness The Assassination of Katie Hopkins (above) at Theatr Clwyd (20 April – 12 May) – another musical satire, this time about “truth, celebrity and public outrage”.

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