Suddenly, just like that, it’s the last of the teen years. And with all the uncertainty over the B word, thank goodness the arts and culture scene in London is remaining just as vibrant, superlative and oftentimes mind-blowingly exciting. Yes, it’s going to be a whiz-bang capital 2019 in London. Here are my top recommendations for theatre, art, opera, music, design and dance in London this year. Happy Happy New Year 2019!
The Thames takes centre stage this year when the Illuminated River project kicks off. Incorporating up to 15 bridges, from Albert Bridge to Tower Bridge, Illuminated River will be the longest public art commission in the world at 2.5 miles in length, along 4.5 nautical miles of the River Thames. It will be viewed over 200 million times each year. The first in the series to blaze-up will be London, Cannon Street, Southwark and Millennium Bridges in summer 2019.
Leave to Remain
Leave to Remain follows a young gay couple in the face of an uncertain future. Told through a mix of music, movement and drama, Leave to Remain features original new songs by Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke and stars Tyrone Huntley, fresh from Jesus Christ Superstar. 18 Jan – 16 Feb
Bill Viola/Michelangelo – Royal Academy
The RA will bring together the work of the pioneering video artist, Bill Viola with drawings by Michelangelo. Though working five centuries apart, Bill Viola / Michelangelo will create an artistic exchange between these two artists. It will be the first exhibition at the Royal Academy largely devoted to video art and has been organised in partnership with Royal Collection Trust. 26 January – 31 March
All About Eve, Noel Coward
It’s directed by Ivo van Hove and stars Gillian Anderson, Lily James and Julian Ovenden. Need I say more? 2 February – 11 May
Akhnaten, English National Opera
Phelim McDermott‘s Olivier Award-winning production of Philip Glass‘s Akhnaten returns to the ENO for its first revival, following its sell-out run in 2016. Philip Glass specialist Karen Kamensek conducts Akhnaten following last season’s Satyagraha revival. 11 February to 7 March
Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams – Victoria and Albert Museum
The V&A opens the largest and most comprehensive exhibition ever staged in the UK on the House of Dior. From 1947 to the present day, Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams traces the history and impact of one of the 20th century’s most influential couturiers, and the six artistic directors who have succeeded him. 2 February to 14 July
The Renaissance Nude, Royal Academy
In March 2019, the Royal Academy of Arts will present The Renaissance Nude, an exhibition exploring the nude and how it inspired some of the most renowned masterpieces of the western canon. It will bring together around 90 works featuring Lucas Cranach the Elder, Albrecht Dürer, Jan Gossaert, Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci. 3 March -2 June
Betrayal, Harold Pinter
Starring Tom Hiddleston, Betrayal charts a compelling seven-year romance, thrillingly captured in reverse chronological order. The production marks the culmination of the Jamie Lloyd Company’s ground-breaking Pinter at the Pinter season. 5 March – 1 June
Pitzhanger Manor re-opens
Sir John Soane’s Grade I-listed masterpiece re-opens to the public after a three-year conservation and restoration project. Anish Kapoor will launch the Pitzhanger Gallery’s exhibitions programme with a series of sculptures that invite dialogue between his sculptures and the architecture. Opens 16 March.
Grief is the Thing with Feathers – Barbican
If you loved Peaky Blinders, get thee down to the Barbican for Enda Walsh’s adaptation of Max Porter’s award-winning novel, starring Cillian Murphy. Take a box of tissues with you.
London Handel Festival
Handel’s Divas takes centre stage in this year’s festival, kicking off with Berenice at the Linbury Studio, an opera that has not been heard since Handel presented it in 1737. 27 March – 29 April
Van Gogh and Britain – Tate Britain
Van Gogh and Britain will be the first exhibition to take a new look at the artist through his relationship with Britain. It will explore how the artist was inspired by British art, literature and culture throughout his career and how he in turn inspired British artists, from Walter Sickert to Francis Bacon. Bringing together the largest group of Van Gogh paintings shown in the UK for nearly a decade, the exhibition will include over 45 works by the artist from public and private collections around the world. 27 March – 11 August
Mary Quant, Victoria and Albert Museum
Receiving unprecedented access to Dame Mary Quant’s archive, as well as drawing on the V&A’s extensive fashion holdings (which include the largest public collection of Quant garments in the world) the show will bring together over 120 garments as well as accessories, cosmetics, sketches and photographs. 6 April – 16 February 2020
Miss Julie – Jermyn Street Theatre
August Strindberg’s Miss Julie returns to the Jermyn Street Theatre following a previously sold-out run. Directed by Tom Littler in a new version by Howard Brenton. 25 April – 1 June
Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition – Design Museum
This is sure to be a blockbuster and will offer a unique insight into the director’s vast archive through original props and costumes, set models and rare photographs. Relive iconic scenes from The Shining and A Clockwork Orange and see objects on display for the first time in the UK, exploring the unique relationship Kubrick had with England and particularly London as his film location and source of inspiration.
The Lehman Trilogy – Piccadilly Theatre
One of my favourite productions of 2018, The Lehman Trilogy transfers from the National Theatre to the Piccadilly Theatre, with the original cast in tow. You can read my review here. 11 May – 03 August
Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing – Queen’s Gallery
Marking the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, the exhibition brings together more than 200 of the Renaissance master’s greatest drawings in the Royal Collection, forming the largest exhibition of Leonardo’s work in over 65 years. 24 May – 13 October
Garsington Opera is celebrating its 30th Anniversary in style with four new productions, including the UK stage premiere of Offenbach’s Fantasio and concert performances of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610. Bring on the music and the picnic hampers! 29 May- 26 July
Claire Martin, Orange Tree Theatre
Jazz singer Claire Martin returns to the Orange Tree with pianist and arranger Martin Sjöstedt, for a very special concert celebrating the release of her new album Believin’ It. 16 June
Félix Vallotton, Royal Academy
The first comprehensive survey of Vallotton’s career to be held in the UK. Through more than 80 paintings and prints, the Royal Academy will explore an extraordinary body of work: from compelling portraits, magnetic still-lifes, luminescent landscapes and bitingly satirical prints, to interior scenes which reverberate with psychological tension. 30 June – 29 September
Blues in the Night – Kiln Theatre
The Olivier and Tony Award nominated musical sees its first major London revival in 30 years. Directed by Susie McKenna and starring Olivier Award winners Sharon D. Clarke (Caroline or Change) and Clive Rowe (Guys and Dolls) Blues in the Night is a scorching compilation of 26 hot and torchy blues numbers that frame the lives and loves of four residents of a downtown hotel. Featuring soul-filled songs by blues and jazz icons Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington, Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen and many more, this will be a sizzling night to remember. 18 July to 7 September
Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet – Sadler’s Wells
The tale of the world’s most famous star-crossed lovers has been re-imagined in Matthew Bourne’s production with a cast that includes dancers from the age of 16 to 19. 7 – 31 August
William Blake, The Artist – Tate Britain
The most comprehensive survey of William Blake’s work to be held since 2001, William Blake: The Artist will rediscover him as a visual artist for the 21st century. With around 300 works, including his watercolours, paintings and prints, the exhibition will provide a comprehensive overview of Blake’s achievements and ambitions across a range of media. 11 September – 2 February 2020
Rembrandt’s Light – Dulwich Picture Gallery
2019 is The Year of Rembrandt with celebrations taking place throughout Europe to mark 350 years since the artist’s death (1669). Dulwich Picture Gallery will stage London’s Rembrandt moment with an innovative exhibition that aims to refresh the way that we look at works by this incomparable Dutch Master. 4 October – 2 February
Pioneers of the Modern Movement – William Morris Gallery
The William Morris Gallery will be examining the influence of the ideas of William Morris and the Bauhaus through a major new exhibition Pioneers of the Modern Movement.
Gauguin Portraits – The National Gallery
The first ever exhibition devoted to the portraits of Paul Gauguin will open at the National Gallery in autumn 2019. With approximately fifty works, the exhibition will feature paintings, works on paper, and three-dimensional objects in a variety of media from public and private collections worldwide. 7 Oct – 26 Jan 2020
Dear Evan Hansen, Noel Coward Theatre
The winner of six 2017 Tony Awards, Dear Evan Hansen features a book by Steven Levenson, a score by Academy Award and Tony-winning composers Benj Pasek & Justin Paul (The Greatest Showman, La La Land), and direction by four-time Tony Award-nominee Michael Greif (RENT). Exact dates to be announced.
George IV: Art & Spectacle – Queen’s Gallery
George IV is arguably the most magnificent of British monarchs and formed an unrivalled collection of art, much of which remains in the Royal Collection. He purchased paintings, metalwork, textiles, furniture, watercolours, books and ceramics in vast numbers, many of these works by the finest artists of the day. Bringing together Dutch and Flemish masterpieces, magnificent portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence and Sir Joshua Reynolds, delicate French porcelain, intricate goldsmiths’ work and elegant books and drawings, this exhibition will present George IV’s life through the art that enriched his world. 15 November – 4 May 2020
Dora Maar at Tate Modern
The largest retrospective of Dora Maar ever held in the UK, expect to see her surrealist photomontages, commercial photography and painting. This exhibition will explore the breadth of Maar’s long career in the context of work by her contemporaries. 20 November – 15 March 2020
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE