Where did the first half of 2017 go?! Somehow, we're in June, and with the sun beaming down, it's the perfect opportunity to enjoy a balmy evening with friends and family, catching one of the many brilliant shows opening this month. Here are our top picks.
Previews from 3 June, press night 8 June; Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs
Rachel: The synopsis for Anatomy Of A Suicide doesn't give much away, happily allowing for that all-too-rare chance to go into a theatre without any preconceptions or prior knowledge. Given that it's a part of a continued collaboration between playwright Alice Birch and director Katie Mitchell, we can rest assured that this will be well worth a watch.
The cast of Bat Out Of Hell - The Musical (Photo: Specular)
Previews from 5 June, press night 20 June; London Coliseum
Sinead: You may have listened to the album and enjoyed belting out various tracks at karaoke, but have you ever experienced one of the most iconic albums of all time on stage, live in all its glory? No - but now is your chance. Bat Out Of Hell The Musical opens at the London Coliseum this month. Get a ticket now, because like a bat out of hell, they’ll be gone when the morning comes.
Previews from 13 June, press night 14 June; Peacock Theatre
Sinead: The passion, colour, vibrancy and energy of India lands in London’s West End. Taj Express bursts with life at Sadler’s Wells, performed by stars of Bollywood cinema and featuring the songs of Oscar winner A.R. Rahman, composer of Danny Boyle’s 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire. I’m always blown away by big Bollywood dance numbers and cannot wait to experience the magic first hand in this sizzling sensation!
Previews from 14 June, press night 22 June; Lyric Hammersmith
Robin: "I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not so sure" - a mentality which Ferdinand Von Schirach's worldwide phenomenon promises to harshly confront. This play hands over agency to the audience, as the fate of a fighter pilot who downed a hijacked plane is in your hands: you enter the courtroom, hear the evidence, judge his guilt, and condemn or reprieve him. In a markedly democratic month, it looks like a huge - and hugely exciting - decision to make.
Rufus Hound as Mr Toad in The Wind In The Willows (Photo: Marc Brenner Jamie Hendry Productions)
Previews from 16 June, press night 29 June; London Palladium
Dan: Everyone round to Toad Hall! The beloved children’s novel comes to the London Palladium, brought to life by a formidable team that includes Julian Fellowes, George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. As a child I tested the patience of my parents by demanding readings of the books most nights so I can’t wait to relive my childhood.
Audra McDonald in Lady Day At Emerson's Bar & Grill in New York (Photo: Evgenia Eliseeva)
Previews from 17 June, press night 27 June; Wyndham's Theatre
Jim: I had the chance to see this show on Broadway three times and I couldn't be more excited to see it again in London. Audra McDonald is a legend in the States (and holds the record for the most Tony Award wins - she won the record-breaking award with this role!). She plays Billie Holliday, and her songs and style couldn't ring more true today - she completely embodies the very presence of this musical icon in an intimate setting. Get a martini, and be transported to Emerson's Bar and Grill.
Previews from 20 June, press night 29 June; Gielgud Theatre
Robin: A new Jez Butterworth play at the Royal Court - need I say more? But for anybody unsure of whether the incredible heights of Mark Rylance and Jerusalem can ever be reached again, have no fear: I was fortunate enough to see The Ferryman last month and have barely stopped reeling since, hooked on a masterpiece of layered, ambitious and captivating storytelling. Plus, for fans of animals or babies on stage, you're in for a treat. This is a remarkable piece of theatre: go.
Alice McCarthy and Anna Martine in Rotterdam (Photo: Piers Foley Photography)
Previews from 21 June, press night 22 June; Arts Theatre
Jim: First it won the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre, then it made its journey to the States at the famous 59E59 Theatres, and now this little play that could is back at the Arts Theatre for a limited run. A funny and bittersweet show about gender, sexuality and being a long way from home. Don't miss it this time around.
F. Murray Abraham in The Mentor (Photo: Simon Annand)
Previews from 24 June, press night 4 July; Vaudeville Theatre
Rachel: Your chance to see F. Murray Abraham on stage! Best known for his Oscar-winning performance as Salieri in Amadeus, in The Mentor he takes on the role of cantankerous, once-famous writer Benjamen Rubin. The play celebrated a record-breaking run earlier this year at Theatre Royal Bath’s Ustinov Studio - the most successful in the studio’s history. Let's end with a little mentoring of our own here, fact fans: this production marks the first time that bestselling author Daniel Kehlmann’s play has been performed outside of Germany.
Previews from 30 June, press night 10 July; Theatre Royal Haymarket
Dan: Yas Queen! The RSC are bringing their acclaimed production of Helen Edmundson’s Queen Anne to London for a strictly limited 13-week season. The play tells the story of the titular Queen and her relationship with Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough – a relationship that raised more than a few eyebrows at court. Scheming, deceit and blackmail – Queen Anne has it all. As a fan of both House of Cards and the House of Stuarts, Queen Anne couldn’t be more perfect viewing.