8 must-see musicals in London
Whether you’re planning to study in London or fancy a getaway to the iconic capital, going out to a West End show should be top of your to-do list. London's West End theater district is famously known for its rich theatrical history, being home to some of the world’s most prestigious theater companies in the world for musicals, plays and shows dating as far back as William Shakespeare's time.
Today’s West End proves the timeless appeal of the performing arts where spectators have been drawn to its radiant marquees and captivating storylines for hundreds of years. But of all the musicals on offer in London, which ones are the best? Here’s a list of 8 must-see musicals currently in production in London to help you decide.
1. Wicked – The Apollo Victoria Theatre
You’ve heard of The Wizard of Oz, but how much do you really know about the Wicked Witch of the West? This enchanting musical shares the tale from a totally different perspective, exploring the unlikely friendship between Elphaba the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch. The show’s breathtaking music and costumes will leave you with a greater appreciation for this modern interpretation and you’ll be singing “Defying Gravity” and “Popular” long after leaving the theater.
2. Matilda the Musical – The Cambridge Theatre
Inspired by the famous children’s story by Roald Dahl, Matilda the Musical has won over 100 international awards and has been delighting audiences for over ten years. With incredibly catchy songs and punchy choreography, this musical portrays the story of Matilda, a young girl with a troubled home life and a vivid imagination. At school, she finds friendship and support in her fellow students and her teacher, Miss Honey. However, Matilda faces constant bullying by the nasty school principal until she takes a stand for herself and her classmates in this tale of rebellion and ultimately, triumph.
3. Hamilton – The Victoria Palace Theatre
This modern musical tells the compelling history of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s Founding Fathers. The story follows his unexpected journey from an orphan in the Caribbean to George Washington’s right-hand man in the Revolutionary War. As America’s first-ever Treasury Secretary, Hamilton’s intellect takes center stage in this portrayal expertly crafted by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who shot to fame after Hamilton first debuted on Broadway in 2015. This musical is full of action, love and betrayal with an addictingly catchy soundtrack to match.
4. SIX: The Musical – The Vaudeville Theatre
“Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived” – a rhyme known to all in England about the miserable fates of the six wives of Henry the VIII, but now told in this bold, modern retelling. The six wives, now pop stars, sing about their stories to reclaim their narratives and determine who suffered the most at the hands of Henry VIII. Learn about British history through this high-energy and very clever stage production.
5. The Lion King – The Lyceum Theatre
This Disney classic is full of vibrant costumes, magical puppetry and beautiful music. It tells the story of Simba, a young lion cub on the African savannah after the sudden and tragic loss of his father Mufasa. His soul-searching takes him far from his family, while his evil uncle Scar takes power as the new King of the Pride Lands. Simba must choose between returning to his rightful place on the throne, or continuing to run from his pain. If you cried during the animated film, just wait until you see the story unfold on stage.
6. Mrs. Doubtfire – Shaftesbury Theatre
When failed actor Daniel loses custody of his children in a messy divorce, he'll do anything to spend more time with them. So, he creates an alter ego, “Mrs. Doubtfire,” the extravagant and funny nanny from Scotland, in an attempt to win back the hearts of his children and learn a few things about fatherhood along the way. This musical version of the classic early 90s movie featuring Robin Williams is heart-warming, hilarious and very entertaining.
7. Phantom of the Opera – His Majesty’s Theatre
Beneath the Paris Opera House lives a mysterious and disfigured musical genius. He haunts those who perform until he becomes mesmerized by a very talented young singer, Christine. He falls fiercely in love with her, but turns to jealousy and rage when Christine’s childhood sweetheart comes back into her life. This musical takes inspiration from the grandeur of classical opera, with rich and lavish melodies that underscore the intense emotional moments in the story.
8. Mamma Mia – The Novello Theatre
Sophie has always wondered who her father is. When she discovers her mother’s diary, she learns that there are three men who could potentially be her dad. Sophie concocts a secret scheme to invite all of them to her wedding on a picturesque Greek island to get to the bottom of a lifelong mystery. But will she be able to tell which one is her father? This joyous and heart-warming musical is full of the “grooviest” classic ABBA songs, so you’ll find it hard to resist singing along.
We hope this list of 8 must-see musicals in London helps inspire you to make it to a musical during your time in London. You'll be able to count yourself among the millions of people who have been mesmerized by the incredible talent and magic of the West End.