After a spring and summer which has seen quite a few new West End openings (Ghost at the Piccadilly and Shrek at Drury Lane in their midst), there are still some major shows to look forward to as autumn approaches (even if I’m writing this in the final gasps of a UK post-summer heatwave). Top of my list this autumn is Matilda the Musical which the RSC are doing at the Cambridge Theatre. It has, in fact, seen off the Kander and Ebb musical Chicago, which had been doing okay business at the Cambridge following an earlier transfer from the Adelphi Theatre down on the Strand – that show will now reopen on 7 November in its third London home, the Garrick Theatre, where those merry murderesses will no doubt razzle dazzle the West End crowds for a good while yet. No casting has been announced for the London reopening of Chicago, following a two month break, but one can only hope that the cast will be led by musical theatre performers rather than the latest celebrity castings that have dogged production standards (though kept the Box Office going) in recent years.

Back to Matilda though, and that cast will be led by Bertie Carvel, Paul Kaye, Josie Walker (who I last saw in the Alan Bennett play Enjoy, alongside Alison Steadman) and Lauren Ward. Those four will reprise their roles from the original production at the RSC, where it played a sell-out season at the Courtyard. Somehow, I didn’t make the journey to Stratford to see it there – an oversight on my part, as any RSC musical is worth seeing for their high production values if nothing else. I remember seeing the West End transfer of the RSC production of The Secret Garden some years ago at the Aldwych – there wasn’t another show like it in town, and it came and went far too quickly. Linzi Hately did a great turn as Martha in that production – a West End stalwart she was most recently seen as Donna in Mamma Mia. I hadn’t seen the Secret Garden in Stratford either – having toured the new building there earlier this summer and experienced the welcome embrace of that building and its staff to visitors and theatregoers alike, I won’t make the same mistake again. Yet another reason to see Matilda – and another repriser from the Courtyard’s production – is the young Welsh actor Marc Antolin who has been making such an impression in featured roles in various London fringe and Chichester productions over the last few years. He’s just finished playing Sid in Jonathan Church and Andrew Wright’s beautiful production of Singin in the Rain at the Festival Theatre, which Adam Cooper and Scarlett Strallen will transfer to the Palace Theatre in town in February.

Matilda, is of course, a musical version of the Roald Dahl story by Dennis Kelly and musician and comedian Tim Minchin, directed by Matthew Warchus. The publicity blurb promises that ‘Children and adults alike will be thrilled and delighted by the story of the special little girl with an extraordinary imagination’. I look forward to it. Another show I simply have to see before the end of the year – and indeed, before the end of the show, as it closes on New Year’s Eve, is Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Ray Meagher – yes, Alf from Home and Away! – is rejoining the company to play Bob the mechanic, following a six month run earlier this year. Meagher obviously had so much fun with the travelling trio that he got his Aussie soap bosses to excuse his character for a further few months. I last saw him in panto as King Rat in panto – doing a King Rat rap no less – and look forward to seeing him again.

The Menier are bringing back their Christmas musical this year (following last year’s seasonal entertainment The Invisible Man) with a rare revival of Stephen Schwartz’s Pippin. I must admit to a liking for Mr Schwartz’s most famous work Wicked – celebrating five years in the West End and still packing them in at the Apollo Victoria. I’ve seen Wicked two or three times during its run and would happily see it again – unlike some so-called blockbuster shows this one really does have a tremendous heart as well as big sets and great costumes, and they usually cast sound musical theatre performers too. Pippin, however, is less well known and the Menier will have to pull out all the stops to get this one on its feet. Billed as a ‘high-concept’ imagining of the show and directed by Mitch Sebastian, Pippin is heir to the throne of Charlemagne....hmm.And how can I not mention the musical everyone is crazy about – Crazy for You – which transfers to the Novello Theatre from the Open Air Theatre Regents Park on 8 October. Lovely memories still abide of the previous production at the Prince Edward which made Ruthie Henshall a star. I saw this Gershwin show in its second year when the male lead was played by Tim Flavin, a lovely song and dance man who has done so many great shows over here. This time around, Crazy will be led by Sean Palmer and Clare Foster – Sean did the reprise of On The Town opposite Caroline O’Connor’s mad taxi driver at the ENO a few years back and it will be interesting to see him in his dancing shoes.But Matilda and the RSC is still top of my London must-sees this autumn.