Musicals are an essential part of the London experience. If you are visiting London, or live in London but haven’t yet seen a musical, this list will help you find out a bit more about the available options.
No visit to London will be complete if you don’t visit the West End. Undoubtedly, the West End is best known for its shopping and its entertainment. And perhaps the most famous thing about this part of London is its theatre/musicals. And musicals are especially prominent here. Theatre goers are more likely to be found at the National Theatre, however, anyone interested in the highest quality musicals would want to come here. Alongside Broadway in New York, the West End has the best musicals out there.
Options will bombard you from every side, so it’s good to have an idea of what you want to see prior to going there. Keep in mind that you can get great prices for the musicals if you check for discounts online. Take a look at TodayTix to see if they have deals for any of the musicals you want to see. You could get a ticket for less than £25! Which means that you can see one of the West End musicals for the price of an afternoon tea.
Although it is not on the list, since there are no tickets currently available, be sure to watch out for future performances of Dreamgirls.
1. The Lion King
The Lion King is one of the most recommended musicals on the West End. It is, in case the title didn’t give it away, based on the Disney film. It premiered on Broadway in 1997 and The Lion King London opened in October 1999. And it’s been selling out ever since.
The Lion King Musical transports audiences to a dazzling world that explodes with glorious colours, stunning effects and enchanting music. At its heart is the powerful and moving story of Simba – the epic adventure of his journey from wide-eyed cub to his destined role as King of the Pridelands.
Wicked tells the incredible untold story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two young women who first meet as sorcery students at Shiz University: the blonde and very popular Glinda and a misunderstood green girl named Elphaba. Following an encounter with The Wonderful Wizard, their friendship reaches a crossroads and their lives take very different paths.
“Packed with wit, storming songs and beautiful costumes” (The Guardian). Wicked is a star, it’s one of the longest running shows on the West End. It has one more than 100 major international awards, including Tony Awards on Broadway and two Oliver Audience Awards in the UK. This is a great musical for anyone who was enchanted by OZ, but also for anyone who is looking for high quality musicals. It’s going to be a rewarding musical theatre experience.
3. The Book of Mormon
From the creators of South Park, The Book of Mormon is one of the most critically acclaimed new musical and has won an impressive nine Tony awards. You might just be listening to the songs on repeat after the show.
In a superbly-written musical masterpiece of religious satire, the story reveals the journey of two Salt Lake City Mormons, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, who are sent on an important mission to convert the people of Uganda to the Mormon religion. When they turn up in a small village, the natives greet them with hostility and as their beliefs and friendships are challenged, a completely hilarious musical comedy unfolds.
4. Everybody’s Talking about Jamie
Everybody’s talking about Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. If you want to see a musical production, which is very 21st century then this is the show for you.
Inspired by a true story, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is the hit musical for today. Supported by his brilliant loving mum and surrounded by his friends, Jamie overcomes prejudice, beats the bullies and steps out of the darkness, into the spotlight.
With ‘songs that have the wow factor’ (The Times) by lead singer-songwriter of The Feeling, Dan Gillespie Sells, and ‘hilarious’ book and lyrics ‘with delightful punch’ (Whatsonstage), by writer Tom MacRae, this funny, fabulous, feel-good, musical sensation has been wowing audiences and critics alike.
If you are looking for uplifting, funny musicals, Waitress might be up your alley. Entertainment weekly calls it ‘a little slice of heaven’, while New York Magazine claims it is ‘sweet, sassy and passionate’. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
Meet Jenna, a waitress and expert pie-maker who dreams of some happiness in her life. When a hot new doctor arrives in town, life gets complicated. With the support of her workmates Becky and Dawn, Jenna overcomes the challenges she faces and finds that laughter, love and friendship can provide the perfect recipe for happiness.
6. The Phantom of The Opera
The Phantom of the Opera has been going for 33 year! And it’s just as mesmerising and entertaining to audiences at Her Majesty’s Theatre (where it’s being played in London) and around the world. Phantom of the Opera is a classic, a 1986 musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on the novel by Gaston Leroux.
Far beneath the majesty and splendour of the Paris Opera House, hides the Phantom in a shadowy existence. Shamed by his physical appearance and feared by all, the love he holds for his beautiful protégée Christine Daaé is so strong that even her heart cannot resist.
7. Les Miserables
It’s hard to miss the theatre where Les Miserables is being staged in London. Les Mis, as it’s generally called in English-speaking countries, is a sung-through musical which will probably have you crying. This is the longest running musical on the West End and the second longest running musical in the world. The English version premiered back in 1985 and it’s still going today, with a new production opening 18 December 2019.
Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed new production of Boublil and Schönberg’s Les Misérables opens 18 December 2019 at the newly refurbished Sondheim theatre (formally Queen’s Theatre).
This brilliant new staging has taken the world by storm and has been hailed “Les Mis for the 21st Century”. The magnificent score of Les Misérables includes the songs; “I Dreamed a Dream”, “On My Own”, “Bring Him Home”, “One Day More”, “Master Of The House” and many more. Seen by over 120 million people worldwide in 52 countries and in 22 languages, Les Misérables is undisputedly one of the world’s most popular musicals.
What hasn’t ‘Hamilton’ won. Tony Award, Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album – there’s no wonder this Broadway musical is getting so much love at the West End.
The multi-award-winning musical Hamilton is a sung and rapped-through musical production about the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. The score blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B and Broadway – the story of America then, as told by America now.
9. 9 to 5 The Musical
A musical based on a film of the same name, with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton. This is a hilarious comedy musical which is sure to have you leaving entertained and ready to get back to work. The first is more likely than the latter.
9 TO 5 The Musical tells the story of Doralee, Violet and Judy – three workmates pushed to boiling point by their sexist and egotistical boss. Concocting a plan to kidnap and turn the tables on their despicable supervisor, will the ladies manage to reform their office – or will events unravel when the CEO pays an unexpected visit?
Another musical based on a Disney classic. Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed stage musical of Mary Poppins has delighted audiences around the world since its world premiere in 2004. If you loved the books/films or just want to get to know the world’s favourite nanny, then you should head down to the West End.
The magical story of the world’s favourite Nanny is triumphantly and spectacularly brought to the stage with dazzling choreography, incredible effects and unforgettable songs. Starring Zizi Strallen, returning to play the title role following great acclaim on the recent sell-out international tour, and Charlie Stemp as Bert, who recently gave an award-winning performance as Arthur Kipps in Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Half A Sixpence.
What are your favourite musicals? Share in the comments.
Featured image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/T2UCFiXtqY4
Currently going into her final year of English and Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London. Gery has been writing in a personal blog since 2014 and has been published in publications StudentVoices and FictionHub on Medium. She debuted her first play 'Liminality' at Edinburgh Festival Fringe and is already planning her next project.