Theatre in London: From Cabaret to Moulin Rouge, the best theatre shows this winter

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Omari Douglas and Jessie Buckley in Cabaret (Marc Brenner)

‘Tis the season to see lots of great theatre – December is packed with brilliant new shows.

From sparkly musicals to star-studded pantos, political dramas to brand new adaptations, there’s something to suit all tastes. Here’s our guide to what’s new on stage this month…


It’s a month of heavyweight musicals, and this one has the star power. Eddie Redmayne, Jessie Buckley and Omari Douglas will star in this production of Cabaret, directed by exciting talent Rebecca Frecknall, whose version of Summer & Smoke at the Almeida charmed its way to the West End.

Booking until May 14, Kit Kat Club;

Moulin Rouge

(Matt Crockett)

How wonderful life is (sung in Nicole Kidman voice)… now that the stage version of Moulin Rouge is opening in the West End. After nabbing an armful of Tonys on Broadway back in 2018, it’s time for Satine and Christian to fall tragically in love and warble from the top of an elephant again, this time at the Piccadilly Theatre.

Booking until May 28, Piccadilly Theatre;

Spring Awakening

(Marc Brenner)

The first London revival of this cult coming-of-age musical hit will be at the Almeida this month, with Rupert Goold directing. Based on German playwright Frank Wedekind’s late 19th century play about a group of teenagers rebelling against a sexually oppressive society, the cast will include Evening Standard Emerging Talent Award winner Laurie Kynaston.

Dec 7 to Jan 22, Almeida Theatre;


A big family-friendly musical fairytale adaptation will be opening at the National Theatre just in time for Christmas. Sounds like a winner – especially since a version of Rufus Norris’s show ran at the Young Vic in 2002 and was a hit. Based on Sleeping Beauty, it’ll star Rosalie Craig as the fairy who sends the princess to sleep. Elsewhere, Tanya Moodie will reprise her acclaimed performance in Alice Childress’s Trouble in Mind in the Dorfman.

Dec 4 to Jan 22, National Theatre;

The Book of Dust

Nearly twenty years ago, Nicholas Hytner staged Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials novels at the National Theatre. Now he’s bringing the prequel, The Book of Dust, to the Bridge Theatre, which tells the origin story of young heroine Lyra Belacqua.

To Feb 26, Bridge Theatre;

Best of Enemies

A new James Graham play! And it answers a very big question: who do we blame for all of the men shouting about politics on the TV? Charting the debates between Gore Vidal and William F Buckley Jr in the lead-up to the 1968 presidential election, it captures a moment when both the political and cultural landscape changed. Directed by Jeremy Herrin, it stars Charles Edwards and David Harewood in the lead roles.

Dec 4 to Jan 22, Young Vic;


Pantos are back in a big way this year, and this is the biggest one of all. The Palladium panto is a star-studded extravaganza, with Julian Clary and Donny Osmond in the cast.

Dec 4 to Jan 9, London Palladium;

Force Majeure

An adaptation of a film about a family trying to have a nice time together but failing? Very Christmassy! Based on Ruben Ostlund’s 2014 film, which had a mediocre American remake with Will Ferrell in 2020, it’s about a couple who are determined to have a pleasant skiing trip with their children – but things don’t quite work out that way. Directed by Michael Longhurst and adapted by Tim Price, it will star Rory Kinnear.

Dec 10 to Feb 5, Donmar Warehouse;

Habeas Corpus

(Manuel Harlan)

Alan Bennett’s farce about sexual appetite has divided critical opinion since it first opened in 1974; now a major revival, to be directed by Patrick Marber, is bringing it to a whole new audience. Will they be gagging for it? Let’s see.

Dec 3 to Feb 27, Menier Chocolate Factory;

A Christmas Carol

(Manuel Harlan)

Humbug no more! There are two Christmas Carols on offer in the capital this year: Stephen Mangan plays Scrooge in the Old Vic’s ever popular adaptation by Jack Thorne, and Mark Gatiss stars as Jacob Marley in his adaptation at Alexandra Palace.

Old Vic, until Jan 8,; Alexandra Palace, until Jan 9,

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