The 10 best new London theatre openings in June

It’s June! It’s an evenly-numbered year! That means the LIFT festival is back, bringing a sprinkling of weird, wonderful and challenging international work to London for a month-and-a-bit. It’s well worth taking a punt on a show.

On a more normcore note things are starting to slow down a bit for the summer after a frenetic May, but that doesn’t stop the month ending with two colossal musicals (‘Mean Girls’ and the revival of ‘Starlight Express’). Plus! The return of James Corden.

The 10 best new London theatre shows to see in June 2024

As You Like It, LIFT 2024
Photo: Dahlia Katz

1. LIFT 2024

The biennial London International Festival of Theatre returns for 2024 with a relatively low key but impressively diverse line-up that will take in everything from a shaggy dog story take on Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ grafted onto a message about Native American land rights in Canada (‘The Land Acknowledgement or As You Like It’, Southbank Centre Jun 5-9, pictured) to the world premiere of ‘Bat Night Market’ (Science Gallery, Jun 10-15) a generically unclassified show exploring the future of food, and also bats, and also bats as food. For full listings head to the LIFT homepage.

Various venues, Jun 5-Jul 27.

Mean Girls, Savoy Theatre, 2024
Photo: Mean Girls

2. Mean Girls

Tina Fey’s musical adaptation of her classic early ‘00s high school comedy had a rough-ish time of it on Broadway: it managed a couple of fairly successful years but was then closed by the pandemic and never reopened. It’s probably hoping for a bit more from this West End run, which comes a few months after Fey’s own musical film remake. Confused? Hopefully all should be made clearer when the tale of hysterical cliqueness as a regular American high school opens at the Savoy.

Savoy Theatre, booking to Feb 16 2025. Book tickets here.

Starlight Express, 2024
Image: Troubadour Theatre

3. Starlight Express

More so than even ‘Cats’, ‘Starlight Express’ feels like the musical that best defines how infuriatingly world-conquering Andrew Lloyd Webber was back in the ’80s being, in essence, a dumb musical about a bunch of trains played by people on roller skates. But after some superb recent Webber revivals it’s only fair to give this new ‘immersive’ production the time of day, directed as it is by Luke Sheppard, responsible for the extremely fun ‘& Juliet’.

Troubadour Wembley Park, booking to Feb 16 2025. Book tickets here.

The Constituent, Old Vic, 2024
Photo: Manuel Harlan

4. The Constituent

Did James Corden pull a few strings to secure a summer election? The actor and – sigh – media personality has only actually starred in two plays proper before, but as they were the original National Theatre runs of ‘History Boys’ and ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ then even the most ardent hater had to give the man some credit. His third stage outing will be Joe Penhall’s new drama about an overworked backbench MP (the wonderful Anna Maxwell Martin) who must deal with an erratic, demanding constituent (Corden).

Old Vic, Jun 13-Aug 10.

Alma Mater, Almeida, 2024
Photo: Zeinab Batchelor

5. Alma Mater

Aussie playwright Kendell Feaver is far from a household name in the UK, and indeed hadn’t even been seen in London (though her debut play ‘The Almighty Sometimes’ had a run at the Royal Exchange in Manchester). She’s making waves though: this Christmas she adapts the hit novel ‘Ballet Shoes’ for the National Theatre, and before that her play ‘Alma Mater’ – a timely look at generational tensions on a college campus, starring Lia Williams and Phoebe Campbell.

Almeida Theatre, Jun 11-Jul 20.

The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare’s Globe, 2024
Photo: Shakespeare’s Globe

6. The Taming of the Shrew

Jude Christian has been one of the boldest and most interesting Globe directors of the Michelle Terry era, mixing biting feminism and bonkers conceptualising with deft aplomb. Expect her take on eternally problematic comedy ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ to be harrowing and inventive. 

Shakespeare’s Globe, Jun 6-Oct 26. Book tickets here.

Kiss Me, Kate, Barbican Centre, 2024
Photo: Barbican Centre

7. Kiss Me, Kate

The ‘big summer musical’ is an established post-pandemic tradition at the Barbican and this year it’s the turn of ‘Kiss Me, Kate’, Cole Porter’s 1948 rewiring of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’. In an undeniably entertaining bit of casting, ‘Line of Duty’ icon Adrian Dunbar will show us his range as egotistical stage star Fred Graham, with Broadway veteran Stephanie J Block as Fred’s ex-wife and co-star Lilli Vanessi.

Barbican Centre, Jun 4-Sep 14. Book tickets here.

England, Kiln Theatre, 2024
Photo: Richard Davenport

8. English

London is getting a veritable flood of premieres of Pulitzer Prize-winning plays this year, with ‘Between Riverside and Crazy’ recently opened at Hampstead and ‘The Hot Wing King’ coming to the NT later this summer. In between is last year’s winner of America’s most prestigious drama prize: Sanaz Toosi’s ‘English’, a searching, many-layered play about a group of Iranian English language students. It comes to Kiln in a co-production with the RSC.

Kiln Theatre, Jun 5-29, Book tickets here.

Kathy & Stella Solve a Murder!, Summerhall, 2022


9. Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder!

This highly amusing musical spoof of true crime podcasts and intense female friendships was a late night success at the Edinburgh Fringe the last two years on the trot. It won’t be returning this year though, as Hull-based amateur sleuths Kathy and Stella have booked themselves a summer run in the West End. It’s not deep, but it is a heap of fun.

Ambassadors Theatre, until Sep 14. Book tickets here.

A View From The Bridge, Haymarket Theatre Royal, 2024
Photo: Johan Persson

10. A View from the Bridge

Ten years after Ivo van Hove monumental Young Vic production of Arthur Miller’s great tragedy, it’s finally time for a new one. Old school director Lindsay Posner directs Dominic West and Kate Fleetwood in Miller’s tragedy about an upstanding longshoreman whose infatuation with his niece destroys everything.

Haymarket Theatre Royal, until Aug 3. Book tickets here.

The best new London theatre openings in 2024.

Greenwich Docklands International Festival has announced its 2024 line-up.