Summer in the West End: James Corden Returns, Stephanie J. Block Leads ‘Kiss Me, Kate,’ and ‘Mean Girls’ Crosses the Pond

In June, while New York gets swept up in Tony Awards fever, the London stage is as bustling as ever. This month promises a fantastic variety of musicals, from a charming hit of the Edinburgh Festival now gracing the West End, to a lush revival of a Cole Porter classic. Theatre lovers can also look forward to a juicy new play featuring a Tony winner returning to his roots in London theatre. Plus, a fleet of rollerskating locomotives is gathering speed and heading our way!

Here’s a chronological rundown of five of the most exciting offerings in London’s theatre scene this June.

Hitting the Big Time

‘Kathy & Stella Solve a Murder!’ began its journey at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2022 and has since made stops in Bristol and Manchester. This month, it lands at the West End’s Ambassadors Theatre, opening on June 5. It joins ‘Operation Mincemeat,’ an Olivier Award winner, as a small show—it has a cast of seven—amidst the musical giants of the West End.

The show’s composer and co-lyricist, Matthew Floyd Jones, along with collaborator Jon Brittain, has crafted a murder mystery musical featuring a female crime-fighting duo played by Rebekah Hinds (from ‘Oklahoma!’) and Bronté Barbé (recently in ‘Newsies’ in London). Floyd Jones is thrilled to see his show amidst today’s West End musical lineup, even if it might ‘stick out a bit.’

Wunderbar

Director Bartlett Sher is no stranger to the golden age of Broadway musicals, having brought ‘South Pacific’ and ‘The King and I’ from Lincoln Center to the West End. This summer, Sher is originating such a revival in London, directing a new ‘Kiss Me, Kate’ opening June 18 at the Barbican. The show stars Irish actor Adrian Dunbar (from TV’s ‘Line of Duty’) in the dual roles of Fred Graham/Petruchio, and Tony winner Stephanie J. Block as Lilli Vanessi/Kate.

Block shared that she moved her family to London for the summer after a recommendation from Kelli O’Hara, who performed in ‘The King and I’ here six years ago. Block is eager to belt out Cole Porter’s lustrous score and bring her full-bodied performance to London audiences.

Girl Power

 

 

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 20 years since the first ‘Mean Girls’ film and six years since its Tina Fey-scripted stage musical version hit Broadway, earning 12 Tony nominations. That adaptation became a movie earlier this year, and now the show is crossing the pond, opening June 19 at the Savoy with Charlie Burn and Georgina Castle leading the cast.

Director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw has streamlined the production, making it about 15 minutes shorter than the Broadway version. Nicholaw, who previously directed ‘Dreamgirls’ at the Savoy, jokes about the mix-up potential between the two shows and imagines a hypothetical sass-off between Effie from ‘Dreamgirls’ and Regina from ‘Mean Girls.’

The Homecoming

May 2011 saw the opening at the National Theatre of Richard Bean’s ‘One Man, Two Guvnors,’ which earned James Corden a 2012 Tony Award after its Broadway transfer and launched his fame as a talk show host in the US.

Corden returns to the London stage for the first time since then, starring in Joe Penhall’s politically themed play ‘The Constituent’ at the Old Vic, directed by Matthew Warchus and co-starring Anna Maxwell Martin. With Penhall’s impressive resume, including the Olivier Award-winning ‘Blue/Orange,’ expectations are high for this production. Meanwhile, Warchus has announced his departure from the Old Vic in September 2026.

The New ‘Normal’

‘Next to Normal’ took its time arriving in London, finally opening last summer at the Donmar to rave reviews and several Olivier nominations. Director Michael Longhurst’s cast has been reunited for the West End transfer, opening June 25 at Wyndham’s Theatre. The cast includes Caissie Levy and Jamie Parker as parents Diana and Dan, with Jack Wolfe delivering a breakout performance as their son, Gabe. Wolfe’s powerful vocals and compelling performance have earned him significant recognition.

Reflecting on his unexpected rise, Wolfe shares how ‘Next to Normal’ impacted his career, and the thought of meeting the role’s Broadway originator, Aaron Tveit, is almost too much for him to handle.

So, whether you’re in the mood for a new musical, a classic revival, or a compelling play, London’s theatre scene has something for everyone this June.

Photo Credit: DepositPhotos.com

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