There are few things that attract more visitors to the West End than big, glossy theatre shows. Full of fun, melodies, spectacle, love stories and energy, musicals are the heartbeat running through ‘Theatreland’. Here are the 10 biggest musicals on the London stage right now…
The Book of Mormon
(Prince of Wales Theatre, Coventry Street W1D 6AS)
One for those who enjoy either a dose of sharp satire or their ideas challenged in an amusing and thoughtful way, this one’s maybe a surprise musical hit in that it tells the tale of a couple of US Mormon missionaries’ experiences in trying to convert a Ugandan village. Dreamt up by the creators of the raucous animated adult comedy South Park, it was first a smash on Broadway (where it won nine Tony awards) and has now proved likewise in the West End.
(Tickets from £27.50)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
(Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Catherine Street WC2B 5JF)
One of several current West End hits to have come by way of the written page, movie and theatre giant Sam Mendes’ stage adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s story (and of the 1971 movie musical version) gives the legendary yarn something of a modern makeover, the result of which is as much a vivacious take on an essential, if eccentric and dark morality tale as it is a sweet concoction for all the family.
(Tickets from £17.50)
The Lion King
(Lyceum Theatre, 21 Wellington Street WC2E 7RQ)
This Disney adaptation has been a mainstay of the West End stage for the length of a Serengeti lion’s reign. With music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice, its biggest draw perhaps is the spectacular staging that features starkly dynamic costumes (its look ensures it’s one musical that doesn’t look Disney-fied). Filled with evocative African rhythms as well as the obligatory show-stoppers, it’s sure to delight prides and prides of people.
(Tickets from £35)
(Novello Theatre, Aldwych WC2B 4LD)
Who can say no to an ABBA tune, honestly? Millions and millions of entertained theatregoers certainly can’t, for Mamma Mia (already adapted into a Hollywood blockbuster, of course) can nowadays lay claim to being one of the West End’s longest-running success stories. As far as its own story goes, it may not be the strongest (a mother, a daughter and three possible dads brought together by a trip down the aisle), but the show’s strength is undoubtedly in its infectious feel-good energy and all those irrepressible Scandi-pop hits.
(Tickets from £26)
Matilda The Musical
(Cambridge Theatre, Earlham Street WC2H 9HU)
Another at times deliciously dark and at others delightfully entertaining stage adaptation of Roald Dahl at his very best, comedian Tim Minchin’s take (produced by the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company) on one of the late children author’s most popular novels is sure to charm kids young and old with its plot showcasing how little girls with great intelligence and extraordinary imagination can take on the world. This musical’s definitely one of the most acclaimed of the biggest West End shows.
(Tickets from £26)
(Queen’s Theatre, 51 Shaftesbury Avenue W1D 6BA)
Easily one of the world’s most popular – and arguably one of the greatest – musicals of all-time, Boublil and Schönberg’s epic stage recreation of Victor Hugo’s novel brings to satisfying artistic and melodic realisation the barricades, slaughter, sacrifice, tragedy and heroism of 18th Century Revolutionary France. It’s already been seen by in excess of 70 million people in 44 countries and in 22 languages – are you one of them? If not, where better to experience it than on the London stage, especially if you’re enjoying a break in the capital and staying nearby at The Piccadilly Hotel?
(Tickets from £16)
The Phantom of the Opera
(Her Majesty’s Theatre, Haymarket SW1Y 4QL)
Phantom’s arguably the grand dame of London theatre; do you really need to be told what it’s all about? Oh, all right then. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s mega-musical is the story of a gifted hermit hiding in the bowels of the Paris Opera whom attempts to make the protégé with whom he’s infatuated the city’s leading lady. Featuring terrific old-school effects, this show’s biggest draw though is its great score and instantly recognisable melodies.
(Tickets from £28)
(Ambassadors Theatre, West Street WC2H 9ND)
A sensation the world over, this high-octane combo of percussion, tap and ebullient performance wrapped up in a terrifically staged show makes for a heady, irresistible brew. Revamped for the West End, this latest version even includes a new act featuring ingenious use of old paint cans. See it to believe it – and remember the experience forever!
(Tickets from £22.50)
Thriller – Live
(Lyric Theatre, 29 Shaftesbury Avenue W1D 7ES)
A tribute to the life and world of the late king of pop that was Michael Jackson, it boasts two hours of non-stop hits from the indefatigable icon’s back-catalogue, including his solo career and that alongside his siblings in the Jackson 5. Always a hot West End ticket, be sure to book ahead with this one to avoid a thriller, as it were – and disappointment!
(Tickets from £26.99)
(Apollo Victoria Theatre, 17 Wilton Road SW1V 1LG)
Finally, inspired by the works of L. Frank Baum and, of course, the classic MGM movie The Wizard of Oz, this musical adaptation of Gregory Maguire’s ‘origin tale’ novel casts a magical spell over audiences with its vibrancy, colour, vivid characters, spectacular effects and hummable tunes. Don’t miss this event of the London stage up to (at least) April 2017.
(Tickets from £17.50)