Over the course of history, the West End has become one of the greatest theatre districts in the western world. Alongside New York’s Broadway Theatre, the district is recognised as representing the highest level of theatrical entertainment. All of London’s tourists will see a trip to the capital as incomplete without a visit to The West End, so why not take a look at some of the most renowned, longest-running shows that are still showing in the capital city’s theatre playground today.
1) The Mousetrap
Written by Agatha Christie this play has been entertaining audiences for a record breaking 66 years. Playing at The St Martin’s Theatre, this classic murder mystery is packed full of suspense and is not one to be missed.
2) Les Miserables
Based on Victor Hugo’s novel, this world famous musical is now in its 33rd year. A hugely moving story about the French revolution, this show first opened in London in 1985 and has been dazzling audiences with its amazingly powerful soundtrack. This show is running in the Queen’s Theatre, London.
3) The Phantom of the Opera
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s critically acclaimed musical has been running for 32 years and tells the story of a ‘phantom’ who terrorises performers in a Parisian Opera in order to bring his leading lady to fame. Opening in 1986, this is the third longest-running show in the West End and has been seen by millions. Playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre, make sure you get to see this epic musical.
4) The Woman in Black
This play is celebrating three decades of terrifying audiences of the West End. It eerily tells the story of a haunting in a small English town, and a ghost who destroys the lives of those who see her, described as the ‘most terrifying live theatre experience’ in the capital. Showing at Fortune Theatre, this is the second longest-running play in London and the fourth longest-running show.
5) Mamma Mia
Mamma Mia has been transporting audiences to the small Greek island since 1999, and continues to dazzle audiences daily. Telling the story of a hotel owner and her daughter (and three possible dads) through the songs of Abba, this show packs the feel good factor and is a definite one to be seen. It is playing in the Novello theatre.
6) Disney’s The Lion King
Now celebrating its 18th year in London, this musical is perfect for all the family. This Disney musical tells the story of Simba the lion cub as he meets new friends and learns how to become King of the Jungle. Playing in the Lyceum Theatre this show is a burst of colour and music, making it perfect for children and adults of all ages.
The multi-award winning celebration of the ‘Razzle-Dazzle’ Jazz Age, Chicago is a seductive tale of crime and corruption. It debuted in the West End in 1979, reviving to become one of the most popular shows in London and across the pond on Broadway. Catch murderesses Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly compete for the affection of sleazy lawyer, Billy Flynn, at the Phoenix Theatre now.
Telling the story of the witches from the Wizard of Oz, this musical phenomenon changes the way you look at the Wicked Witch of the West. It is now in its eleventh year in London and continues to defy gravity eight times a week. This is a really great one so is absolutely not to be missed.
9) Thriller Live
Now in its ninth year, Thriller Live is a musical celebration of Michael Jackson’s hit songs. Featuring amazing singing and superb dancing, this show is perfect for fans of the late, great Michael Jackson. It’s playing at the Lyric Theatre, get your tickets now.
Having debuted in the West End in 2011, Matilda is the stage adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s book. The story of the gifted girl has broken records for the number of awards it has won – including an Olivier Award for ‘Best Musical’. As well as embarking on a UK Tour, Matilda is still showing at the Cambridge Theatre.
This article was written by guest writer, Lauren Philpott.