For visitors from every corner of the globe, one of the UK capital’s finest draws is the unparalleled theatre of its legendary West End district. And, in particular, of course, all those sumptuous musicals with their oh-so hummable show tunes. So, on your next trip to London, what better than to indulge yourself by taking in an unbeatable theatrical experience? Here are then, in alphabetical order, the 10 most popular musicals playing in the West End right now…
(Prince Edward Theatre, Old Compton Street W1D 4HS/ booking until: September 2017)
Adapted from Disney’s masterful animated masterpiece, this relatively recently opened show has proved an instant hit with punters all too ready to take its magic-carpet-ride of adventure, comedy, romance and show-stopping tunes. Join the Genie and the gang for a fantastic Arabian night’s worth of entertainment!
The Book of Mormon
(Prince of Wales Theatre, Coventry Street W1D 6AS/ booking until: June 2017)
As much an unflinching satirical comedy of social and religious mores as a big-budget musical, this effort from the creators of the South Park cartoon TV series may be biting and cruelly funny, but also acclaimed and enormously popular – it carried off nine gongs at the 2011 Tony Awards, including for Best Musical.
(Adelphi Theatre, Strand WC2R 0NS/ booking until: September 2017)
Based on a British movie comedy (itself based on true events), this Tony Award-winning musical from the pen of Harvey Fierstein – and featuring songs from ’80s pop chanteuse Cyndi Lauper – tells the tale of how a humble shoemaking business was fantastically and flamboyantly saved by an unlikely business partnership.
The Lion King
(The Lyceum Theatre, 21 Wellington Street WC2E 7RQ/ booking until: July 2017)
Another Disney adaptation; this time the evocatively costumed and set-designed take on the 1994 animated classic (itself a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, set in the animal kingdom of Africa’s Serengeti Plains). Featuring too, of course, the unforgettable hit tunes of Elton John and Tim Rice.
(Novello Theatre, Aldwych WC2B 4LD/ booking until: October 2017)
The seemingly unavoidable ‘jukebox musical’ that’s become a global sensation – and been successfully adapted by Hollywood – brings to the stage the hits of Scandi pop legends ABBA; it’s bolted to the story of a young bride on an idyllic Greek island discovering her father may be any one of three different men. To say this one’s feel-good doesn’t do it justice!
Matilda the Musical
(Cambridge Theatre, Seven Dials, Earlham Street WC2H 9HU/ booking until: December 2017)
The unbeatable partnering of the globally revered Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and Antipodean comedian-cum-songsmith Tim Minchin bring to life the late, great Roald Dahl’s (somewhat) twisted tale of a little girl with a genius’s imagination surrounded by cruel grown-ups ripe for their comeuppance. Fabulously fun and ideal for all the family, not least if you and yours are visiting the capital and staying relatively nearby at a top hotel in West End London, such as the Piccadilly London West End hotel.
(Queen’s Theatre, 51 Shaftesbury Avenue W1D 6BA/ booking until: October 2017)
Is there anybody in the Western world still unaware of Boublil and Schönberg’s musical smash-hit adaption of the legendary Victor Hugo novel set in 18th Century revolutionary France? It’s been staged in more than 20 languages in more than 40 countries and seen by a staggering 70 million-plus punters – yes, put simply Les Misérables makes for a majestic night out at the theatre!
The Phantom of the Opera
(Her Majesty’s Theatre, Haymarket SW1Y 4QL/ booking until: October 2017)
Maybe the most well-recalled musical of the foremost theatrical impresario that’s Andrew Lloyd-Webber, this operatically-aspiring stage spectacular remains one of London’s hottest tickets thanks to the instant-recall-quality of its score and tunes, sky-high production values, impressive visual effects and irresistible gothic mythos and vibe. Catch it and see what the hullabaloo’s been about for the past 30 odd years.
Thriller – Live
(Lyric Theatre, 29 Shaftesbury Avenue W1D 7ES/ booking until: October 2017)
Possibly not as acclaimed a show as others on this box-office bonanza of a list, nonetheless this jukebox musical’s unrivalled soundtrack and dazzling tribute to the life and career of the one and only ‘King of Pop’ Michael Jackson – and his family act, the Jackson 5 – has been playing strong in London since 2009; in fact, in 2014 it became the West End’s 20th longest-running musical.
(Apollo Victoria Theatre, 17 Wilton Road SW1V 1LG/ booking until: May 2018)
Finally, make your friends and family back home green with envy by taking in the Oz witches’ origin tale in musical form; acclaimed and adored everywhere it’s played the world over, this theatrical adaptation of Gregory Maguire’s novel is a tour de force of fantastic fantasy, visual wizardry and, of course, show-stopping tunes.