The Greatest Run down of London Theatre and the West End
let us give you the lowdown on all there is to know, in this essential guide to London theatre and you’ll be singing the full soundtrack to Chicago in no time.
Nothing offers an evening of fun like a trip to the theatre. From the excitement of waiting for the stage curtain to rise, to the obligatory interval ice-cream break and enjoyable acting performances, it’s a real treat for all the senses.
So if you’re coming to London, ensure you consider booking some tickets to one of London’s best shows.
However when it comes to London’s theatre performances you’re spoilt for choice! Whether you’re after a poetical play, musical, comedy or drama there’s something to suit any taste and mood, so it can be confusing as to which theatre to visit and which performance to see.
Don't worry. We've got you covered.
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If you’re looking for a classic performance, you might want to test the water with one of London’s longest running shows in the West End. With some having been running for over 30 years, you know you can’t go wrong.
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No surprise really that Les Miserables is one of them, with shows dating back to 1985 and still going strong today at the Queen’s Theatre. But if that’s a bit too mainstream for you, or Anne Hathaway’s performance in the film version was enough to put you off for life, try another one of the classics such as Phantom Of The Opera, Mamma Mia, The Lion King or Chicago. All of which have been going for at least 18 years, so they’ve got enough matinees under their belt that you’ll surely be in for some great entertainment.
Okay okay, you want us to get to the good stuff right? Like which plays are going to make you howl with laughter, or which plays are a good old fashioned tear jerker? Well if you’re looking for the former, there’s two plays you’ve got to see.
The first is the controversially hilarious Book of Mormon playing at the Prince of Wales Theatre. Written by the writers of South Park about a mormon who takes a trip to Africa - you just can’t make this stuff up - it’s been heavily praised as one of the funniest shows around. It’s probably not for the prudish though as the comedy is aimed to shock with it’s “un-P.C” approach - but if you’re open to all sorts of silly humour combined with unbearable catchy songs, it’s a must see!
Next up would be The Play That Goes Wrong. Having won ‘best new comedy’ at the Laurence Olivier Awards in 2015, and more recent awards for its comedic wit, its comes as no surprise that it’s still going strong after it’s 4 year on the West End at the Duchess Theatre. If you’re thinking what could the play possible entail, think stage lighting failures, forgetting of lines and poor acting - yes these are all ‘staged’ (excuse the pun) but it’s part of the shows charm.
For those looking for something a bit more evocative, try Warhorse which is currently rolling out an anniversary special tour in the West End, to celebrate it’s global success. Set during World War I it takes you on an emotional journey following the story of how a young horse named Joey and his beloved owner Albert were once separated. With incredibly advanced puppetry and stellar acting, you’ll have to buy a ticket to find out whether the pair were ever reunited. Bring some tissues along though as there won’t be a dry eye in sight.
We can’t discuss London’s theatre without a brief mention of another classic, The Woman In Black. If you haven’t guessed it already, it’s not one for the faint hearted. This renowned play is a chilling tale based around Susan Hill’s ghost story where a young lawyer believes he is cursed by a spectre of a woman in black. Now celebrating its 28th year of terrifying people, you can catch a glimpse of the woman herself at the Richmond Theatre.
Where to get London tickets
Now that you’ve got your show decided, you’ll probably need to know where to actually buy the tickets. If you’re looking for last minute seats, the best way to view what’s on offer is by visiting one of the many ticket booths dotted around the London’s West End, namely Leicester Square. You can’t miss these ticket sellers as their all over the place, usually near the tube stations offering last minute deals on remaining tickets. Surprisingly, you may find you get a good deal this way as they’re keen to sell out performances, but don’t be expecting the best seats in the house if you’re booking a prime time show. Equally you can grab some great deals by approaching the theatres box office directly, as they can get returns tickets or unsold tickets which they’re keen to shift on the day.
If you’re one who likes to plan in advance, grab access to a computer to find some tickets online. Lastminute.com and Theatremonkey always have lots of shows to choose from at a few days notice, and the same goes for heading to the appropriate theatres online websites too. This way you can choose your seat in advance without the stress of wondering whether you may or may not get a good ticket.
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If you’re able to, we recommend planning your theatre trip well in advance. For example, if you know your coming to visit London in a few months time, consider purchasing your theatre tickets before you land. It may seem crazy but this way you’ve got plenty of choice and you may be able to grab some tickets to the hottest show in London, that are playing when you’re visiting.
For example, a ticket to see wildly popular Harry Potter and The Cursed Child or Brian Cranston’s Network are completely out of the question, as you will have needed to book months in advance - yes, really months! You may however be able to get your hands on tickets to the critically acclaimed plays like; Red, Consent, Hamnet, Nightfall & Effigies of Wickedness if you plan early enough. All of which Time Out call the top 10 theatrical shows of the moment, so are definitely worth a try.
So whether you’re into singing along to the classic musicals (calm down it’s only an Abba song) or getting a little frightened so you’ve got the perfect excuse to snuggle up to your date, London’s theatres have plenty to offer.