London is a city full of culture and history. The city is full of modern buildings as well as age-old brick walls and Victorian buildings. Apart from the famous royals and the elegant British afternoon tea, London is famous for its music. Broadway in New York, here in London is West End. If you are planning a trip to London, don’t just go sightseeing! Many come to London and enjoy a few musicals. Musicals are a very important culture in London, many musicals are held in theatres full of history and stories. So when going to a show, don’t forget to appreciate the breathtaking architecture of the theatre. Here I have a number of recommendations for you to enjoy while in London. One important tip for you, always book your tickets online in advance, as the shows do get quite full. You might not be able to get a ticket at the door or you might end up having crappy seats. Also do dress up a little when going to a show, that’s part of the culture.
The Phantom of the Opera
Either you have watched the musical or the movie or not, you have definitely heard the name ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ or have listened to the famous theme song. This world famous musical is absolutely one not to miss. The Phantom of the Opera opened in London West End in 1986 and the show has continued today, making it the second most long lasting musical in London West End. In 1986, The Phantom of the Opera opened at Her Majesty’s Theatre London, and the show has remained in the exact same theatre till this day. The Phantom of the Opera is about a disfigured music genius, the Phantom, who terrorised the Paris Opera House and fell in love with a talented and charming young lady.
A story based in the French Revolution, a story about freedom, love, friendship, justice and bravery, Les Miserables is what many come to London for. Opened in London West End in 1985, Les Miserables is the longest running musical ever in London West End and the second longest running musical in the entire world. Les Miserables is at the Sondheim Theatre, it’s very close to ChinaTown. About how a group of young idealists in Paris defy against the government at the street of Paris in order to fight for justice during the revolution, Les Miserables is a very touching story, many leave the theatre weeping a bit. So bring tissues with you!
First opened at Broadway in 2003, Wicked is a fun musical about the Wizard of Oz in the green witch’s perspective. This musical tells a story of how two friends fall apart due to differences in personalities and values, feel betrayed and how a friendship is broken. One of those friends is the witch, part of the reason why the witch becomes who she is today is because of this broken friendship. Filled with love, laughter and tears, Wicked is suitable for all ages. Adults are touched by the musical and kids learn about the importance of kindness and forgiveness. Wicked is played at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. It is right next to Central London’s train station – Victoria Station.
The Lion King
Another kids’ favourite is Disney well known story – The Lion King. First released as an animated movie, The Lion King was then produced into a musical in 1997. The Lion King is a story on the African animal kingdom. Lions are the royals of the animal kingdom when a cub, Simba, was born he was the heir to be the next leader. He will then take his father’s, Mufasa, place. However in this journey, Simba’s wicked uncle Scar killed Mufasa and tried to take over the throne. This is a story about courage, family and love. The Lion King musical is very similar to the movie, but a few scenes are different. Pay extra attention when enjoying the musical and see if you can spot the differences. The Lion King is at the Aldwych Theatre until 2021, make sure you catch the show while in London.
Mamma Mia first opened at London West End in 1999. This musical is a romantic comedy, something we all love. Situated on a Greek Island, Mamma Mia is about a young woman trying to find her birth father on the eve of her wedding day. Mamma Mia captures the audience by its upbeat music and eye catching dance numbers. The musical was such a success that it was later produced into a movie, making it even more accessible to people around the world. Mamma Mia the musical has been open in over 50 countries. No matter the country, audiences always leave the theatre with a big smile on their face. Mamma Mia is currently at the Novello Theatre. If you want something lightweight and enjoyable, definitely give Mamma Mia a try!
Many also think of Cats when it comes to London West End. In fact, Cats has been in production in London for about 21 years. Cats is the start of the megamusical phenomenon, it puts musicals in the global market and has inspired other creators to write shows that are family and tourist friendly. Cats is based on a poem called Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats written by T. S. Elliot. Cats the musical is about a group of Jellicles cats making a choice every night on which cat can ascend to the Heaviside Layer and gain a new life. ‘Memory’ is the most well known music number for this musical. At one point of your life, you must have heard of this song. So why not see the show while in London.
I’m sure this list is more than enough for you to get started in the magical musical world in London West End. Whether you are into musicals or not, this is definitely a must do, if not you will seriously miss out. Fly to London with Cathay Pacific now and check on flights to London!