Five of the Best West End Musicals
Thinking of taking a trip around the London shows? Or just fancy an evening out? Well, before you book those Billy Elliot tickets make sure you check out some of our favourites on the West End stage.
The longest-running musical in West End
history and quite rightly so. Les Miserables is an emotional rollercoaster of a
show, focusing on the toils of a vigilante named Jean Valjean in the early 19th
Based on the famed Victor Hugo novel published in 1862, you may think it might be a little dated. However, the stunning musical numbers and set design will have you wowed. The show tells the story of the troubled life of our protagonist, who faces numerous moral dilemmas culminating in the 1832 June Rebellion in Paris.
Such an event requires some stunning visuals and amazing pyrotechnics. With the accompaniment of some outstanding sound direction and composition, the finale is a stunning affair.
Les Mis is not to be missed and if you’re not in London, the show does tour the country every couple of years, so if a production does make its way nearer to you, be sure to check it out.
Based on the 2000 movie, Billy Elliot The Musical has since become a resounding success in its own right. The show has been a huge hit in the West End since its premiere in 2005, winning a host of awards in the process.
The musical is about a young boy, who despite growing up in an 80s mining community in the north of England aspires to become a professional ballet dancer. With such aspirations he faces much adversity from not only his peers but also his father and older brother.
The musical is composed by Elton John and the famed singer/songwriter won critical acclaim for his music in the show, capped off by a much-coveted Tony Award.
Billy Elliot tickets are usually easy enough to come by and you won’t regret such a spectacular treat. The direction from Stephen Daldry is a revelation, the perfect accompaniment to the fantastic writing of Lee Hall. Make sure you check it out.
The Phantom of the Opera
It’s perhaps the most famous musical of them all and for good reason. The show first shot to fame when the Andrew Lloyd Webber version premiered in London’s West End in 1986.
The musical is based on a novel published in 1911 by French novelist Gaston Leroux. However, the popularised version is not the original. The novel was first reincarnated by Ken Lee in 1976 and the alternate version of the show could still be seen across the world up until its last tour in Japan 2004.
The story revolves around the hideously disfigured phantom’s passionate obsession with naive stage singer, Christine. The show is chock full of musical numbers that some are sure to recognise, even if you have never seen the show before, culminating in a climactic ending.
The Phantom of the Opera has won a host of Olivier Awards during its time in the UK and even more Tony Awards since its first run on Broadway in the US.
The show is pretty easy to catch with its regular performances, but the occasional tour is announced every so often, so keep your eyes peeled.
Should you catch a performance and want even more, now you can. Lloyd Webber has since produced a sequel for The Phantom called Love Never Dies. When it began its first run in early 2010, it became the first sequel in musical history.
The first on this list to come from across the pond, Chicago is a sensation. Based on the prohibition era of the early 20th century in America, you can be sure that Chicago will be a spicy affair. The musical is based on a 1926 stage play written by reporter Maurine Watkins. The storyline was based on events that Watkins had reported on in Chicago during the era before she left journalism to become a playwright.
The tale follows the toils of Roxie Hart, a showgirl who is accused of murder and is sent to prison. Hart uses all she’s got to try and escape the jaws of the justice system with the help of her lawyer, Billy Flynn, becoming an infamous celebrity in the process.
The modern Broadway show opened in 1975 but its recent rise to fame happened in 1996 when it was revived by Walter Bobbie. The show received critical acclaim and won a host of Tony awards. It has run in London’s West End since 1997 and has since toured the country twice.
Although there is a fantastic cinematic version of the show, make sure you try to see it live. It really is an enthralling story filled with some catchy tunes and an impressive finale.
The most modern show in our list is Wicked, which hit the stage in the US back in 2003. The show is loosely based on the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. The novel is a parallel of the classic L Frank Baum story, The Wizard of Oz.
Wicked only made it to the West End in 2006, but has had a plethora of success ever since. The story is based on the notion that the infamous Wicked Witch of the West is in fact not so evil at all, but that she is a misunderstood, victimised soul whose behaviour can be justified as a retort to a charlatan wizard’s crooked government.
Music from the show has recently been popularised by the hit American TV show Glee, but a host of Drama Desk Awards would not have harmed Wicked’s ever growing reputation.
Don’t worry too much if you can’t get to the capital to see the show; the American version is currently touring the US and there are intensifying rumours that there may be a UK tour in the pipeline, so cross your fingers.