London’s West End Musicals
London’s theatre scene is glitzy, glamorous and fun, and there are always hundreds of performances going on at once. Some of the most popular shows are the big West End musicals, many of which have been running for years and still sell out weeks in advance. Here’s a brief guide to some of the all-time favourites. Blood Brothers Theatre: Phoenix, Charing Cross Road Current Run Since: November 1991 Overview: Written in 1981, the original run of the musical starring Barbara Dickson had limited success. However, the remake 10 years later has proven very popular and has now become a cult classic. It’s a captivating prince-and-pauper tale of twin boys from a poor Liverpool family who are separated at birth because their mother can’t afford to keep them both.
One is brought up by the mother’s rich employer so both lead very different lives, only to meet again in adulthood with mixed consequences. Chicago Theatre: Cambridge Theatre, Earlham Street Current Run Since: April 2006 Overview: This sordid tale of murder, greed and corruption focuses on main character Roxy Hart, who is accused of killing her husband and hires a sleazy lawyer to get her acquitted, only to set up a dance act with partner-in-crime Velma. With catchy tunes such as All That Jazz and Razzle Dazzle, it’s been a hit since its first run, which began in 1979. Les Misérables Theatre: Queen’s, Shaftesbury Avenue Current Run Since: October 1985 Overview: In 2006, Les Misérables became the longest running musical in the world. For 21 years it has been keeping audiences captivated with its dramatic and emotional tale of social, political and romantic turmoil in 19th century Paris, adapted from the classic Victor Hugo novel.
The musical score is excellent, moving seamlesly from rousing marches to moving ballads. Lion King Theatre: Lyceum, Wellington Street Current Run Since: October 1999 Overview: Written by Tim Rice and Elton John, this excellent adaptation of the popular Disney animation has won six Tony Awards and is a real stage spectacular, with a dazzling set and fantastic animal costumes. It’s the story of a lion cub, heir to his father’s jungle throne, whose evil uncle plots to take over. Mamma Mia Theatre: Prince of Wales, Coventry Street Current Run Since: June 2004 Overview: 1970s Swedish pop sensation Abba’s best hits are brought together in this great musical medley, arranged around the story of a girl on the eve of her wedding day. Tuneful melodies such as Money Money Money, Dancing Queen and of course Mamma Mia are guaranteed to have audiences tapping their toes throughout. Phantom of the Opera Theatre: Her Majesty’s, Haymarket Current Run Since: October 1986 Overview: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most well known musical is a love story based on Gaston Leroux’s 19th century romantic novel about the goings-on behind the scenes in a Paris Opera House, where a mystery man in a mask falls in love with one of the opera singers. It has won several awards, including seven Tonys and the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical, and is immensely popular – so much so that the theatre has never had an unsold seat in 20 years of daily performances. Key themes from the musical are The Music of the Night and the title piece Phantom of the Opera.
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