For most theatres, their auditoriums have not seen an audience since March 2020.
Online shows, such as Rent, A Christmas Carol and Mischief Movie Night, have brought delight to theatre fans during the lockdown, showing off the diversity of the sector as it attempted to navigate the pandemic.
And while online performances have kept us entertained on the long lockdown nights over the last 12 months, actors, creatives and punters alike are looking forward to the return of live theatre.
Below is a rolling list of plays, musicals and touring shows due to get back under way, as the prime minister’s roadmap progresses.
It’s important to note that all these dates could move, in line with the easing of lockdown restrictions, and some theatres have already said that a negative COVID-19 test or proof of having a vaccine may be needed as a condition of entry.
Where: Sondheim Theatre, London
When: Concert version runs from 20 May and full show starts on 25 September
Do you hear the people sing? Well you will be able to soon when the super-popular Les Mis reopens later in the year.
A socially-distanced concert version of the show will run first at the newly refurbished Sondheim Theatre from 20 May, and will star X-Factor and Eurovision performer Lucie Jones as Fantine.
From 25 September, the full version of the West End’s longest-running show will run, barricades and all, in the hope that audiences can pack out the theatres once again.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
Where: Apollo Theatre, London
When: 20 May
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie follows the real-life story of school pupil Jamie Campbell (Jamie New in the show) who grew up in Sheffield wanting to be a drag queen.
EastEnders actor Shane Richie will join the show as Jamie’s drag mentor when it reopens in May.
The show will also tour later in the year, with a film version of the musical, starring Richard E Grant, coming out soon.
Where: Lyric Theatre, London
When: 21 May
The musical, featuring Henry VIII’s wives as a girl band, put on a handful of performances over summer and Christmas, only for them to be closed down again as a result of lockdowns.
Six, known for its thumping, high-energy pop numbers, will run socially-distanced in its new home at the Lyric Theatre from 21 May.
Where: London Coliseum
When: 22 June
Michael Ball leads the cast in the sixties-based show that touches on racial equality and fatphobia.
Like other shows, it was due to open in 2020, but delays have meant it only has a limited run later this year.
Where: Gillian Lynne Theatre, London
When: 25 June
A brand new musical version of the classic fairy tale Cinderella, reimagined by Andrew Lloyd Webber, will open in June.
Its debut, which features musical theatre star Carrie Hope Fletcher in the title role, has been repeatedly hit by delays due to the pandemic.
It’ll be the first of ALW’s shows to open on the West End.
Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat
Where: The London Palladium
When: 1 July
Jason Donovan returns (though not as Joseph!) for a limited run of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s bible-based musical at the world-famous theatre in the summer.
The show is famous for launching the stage careers of people like Donovan and Philip Schofield, and for its hit song Any Dream Will Do.
Where: Savoy Theatre, London
When: 8 July
This is of course the musical version of the classic rom-com Pretty Woman.
It has an entirely new soundtrack, co-written by soft rock icon Bryan Adams, and will star former Hollyoaks actor Danny Mac.
The Book Of Mormon
Where: Prince of Wales Theatre, London
When: 12 July
This multi-award winning musical, written by the team behind South Park, is a satirical look at organised religion through the eyes of a group of Mormons who are sent to Uganda.
The Book Of Mormon, which is famed for its foul-mouthed musical numbers, consistently packs its theatre, and runs a daily front-row lottery for those who are feeling lucky.
Phantom Of The Opera
Where: Her Majesty’s Theatre, London
When: 21 July
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s show was rumoured to be closing for good last year, but the theatre impresario promised to revive the musical after a refit at the theatre.
The show, which has been running since 1986, and is London’s second-longest running musical, keeps audiences coming back with its rock opera-inspired score and impressive staging.
Where: Barbican Theatre, London
When: 23 July
Anything Goes returns to London with an all-star cast in this celebrated Broadway show.
Tony and Olivier Award-winning Robert Lindsay and Emmy-award winning Megan Mullally (of Will And Grace fame) will tread the boards at the Barbican, alongside singer Gary Wilmot and actress Felicity Kendall.
Where: Trafalgar Studios, London
When: 28 July
A fan favourite, Jersey Boys is making its way back to the West End from summer.
It’s a gritty retelling of the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons set against the backdrop of 1960s America. Numbers include December 1963 (Oh, What a Night!), Sherry, and Beggin’.
Where: Lyceum Theatre, London
When: 29 July
A West End stalwart – The Lion King is based on the 1994 Disney animated film of the same name, and has been running in the West End since 1999.
It features beautiful animal puppetry to Elton John and Tim Rice’s instantly recognisable soundtrack, which includes The Circle Of Life, Hakuna Matata and Can You Feel The Love Tonight?
Where: Harewood House, Leeds
When: 13 August
Here we go again – the world famous show about Sophie and her three dads set to an Abba soundtrack, starts up again in August.
It’ll also head out on tour in the summer, after its open air production in Leeds.
A firm date for a West End return has still not been announced.
Back To The Future The Musical
Where: Adelphi Theatre, London
When: 20 August
Great Scott! The musical version of the cult 1985 film Back To The Future drives its DeLorean on to the West End in August, featuring track The Power Of Love alongside a new soundtrack.
It had its preview run in Manchester before the lockdown, and saw its London debut delayed by the pandemic.
Frozen The Musical
Where: Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London
When: 27 August
Get ready for more households filled with little Annas and Elsas – Frozen the Musical is based on the 2013 smash-hit Disney film of the same name.
Yes, it features a belting live rendition of Let it Go, as well as a raft of new songs written especially for the stage version.
The West End version has already cast its Elsa, with Les Mis actress Samantha Barks taking on the role.
Where: Shaftesbury Theatre, London
When: 24 September
&Juliet is a pop-fuelled retelling of Romeo And Juliet that imagines what could have happened had (and spoiler incoming) Juliet not killed herself.
It’s set against some of the biggest pop songs in history, all written by songwriter supremo Max Martin, including I Kissed A Girl, Oops! I Did It Again and I Want It That Way.
Musicals that still have comeback dates to confirm include Hamilton, Come From Away, Mary Poppins and Wicked.
Under Milk Wood
Where: Olivier Theatre, National Theatre, London
When: 16 June
Michael Sheen will star in the Dylan Thomas play as it opens the National Theatre in June.
It will run socially distanced for its full run, and at a third of its normal 1,500 seat capacity.
Where: Theatre Royal, Windsor
When: 21 June
Sir Ian McKellen will return to the role of Hamlet in June in Shakespeare’s play of the same name.
The show was hit by pandemic-related delays in 2020, with rehearsals initially beginning in September.
The Play That Goes Wrong
Where: Duchess Theatre, London
When: 18 June
This multi-award winning slapstick play from the team at Mischief Theatre returns in June.
The company have been busy throughout lockdown, recording their TV programme The Goes Wrong Show, and putting on months worth of live streamed improv shows to millions of people.
The same company will also open Magic Goes Wrong, which they co-wrote with Vegas legends Penn and Teller, in October at the Vaudeville Theatre.
Magic Mike Live
Where: The Hippodrome Casino, London
When: 21 August
You can catch Channing Tatum’s risqué show for a limited time, which features a group of toned, mostly topless, men putting on a dance performance.
The film of the same name, which stars Tatum, is loosely based on his own experiences.
Other notable shows and venues that are reopening include Shakespeare’s Globe, which will run socially-distanced, interval-free outdoor shows, David Walliams’ Billionaire Boy at the Garrick Theatre and Horrible Histories at the Apollo.
Theatres across the country that have so far announced they are reopening with local productions include:
• Birmingham Rep
• Chester Storyhouse
• Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, Chester
• Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
• Oxford Playhouse
• Royal & Derngate, Northampton
• Nottingham Playhouse
• Theatre Royal Bath
• Curve, Leicester
• Salford Lowry
All the above will open their doors in May.
A handful of shows have announced plans to tour the country this year, including:
Rocky Horror Show
Where: Southampton, then on to Canterbury, Milton Keynes and Nottingham
When: 12 July
Bedknobs And Broomsticks The Musical
Where: Newcastle, then on to Canterbury, Southend and Dublin
When: 14 August
Beauty And The Beast The Musical
Where: Bristol, then on to Liverpool, Edinburgh and Cardiff
When: 25 August
Magic Mike Arena Tour
Where: Belfast, then on to Glasgow, Aberdeen and Leeds
When: May 2022