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The Show Must Go On (Eventually) - London's Must See Shows

7 min read

London's West End is well known for its musicals. From long-running hit shows such as The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables which have been entertaining audiences for over 30 years to welcoming some of Broadway's most recent hits, London certainly is a place to enjoy an exciting musical production. With so much on offer from jukebox shows full of the hit songs from your favourite artists to musicals based on films and books, the West End provides audiences with some of the best form of entertainment possible. While the performances aren't up and running again yet you are able to book tickets for dates from November onwards so get your tickets now!

Our list of Top 10 London musicals is ranked by London Theatre's current top-selling shows.

1. Wicked at Apollo Victoria Theatre
2. The Lion King at Lyceum Theatre
3. Les Miserables at Sondheim Theatre
4. The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre
5. The Book of Mormon at Prince of Wales Theatre
6. Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre
7. Come From Away at the Phoenix Theatre
8. Matilda the Musical at Cambridge Theatre
9. Mamma Mia at Novello Theatre
10. Tina - The Tina Turner Musical at the Aldwych Theatre

1. Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre

Having played at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in the West End since September 2006 Wicked continues to be one of the world's most popular musicals and is a must-see for any visitor to London. Based on the book by Gregory Maguire the musical takes a look over the rainbow to the magical world of Oz and examines everything that happened before Dorothy dropped in. Winner of over 100 international awards Wicked is the 9th longest-running West End musical of all time and celebrated its 10th anniversary in the West End on 27 September 2016, and has been seen by over 9 million people. A fantastic score full of memorable hits including "Defying Gravity", Wicked tells a heart-warming story of friendship, love and acceptance and continues to resonate with audiences from all over the world.

Perfect for: Teenagers, Groups, Family, Special Occasions, Trips to London.


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2. The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre

Walt Disney's The Lion King continues to play to sold-out houses in London's West End after 18 years at the Lyceum Theatre. Based on the hit 1994 animated film of the same name The Lion King features all the songs from film by Elton John and Tim Rice, including "Can You Feel the Love Tonight", "Be Prepared" and "The Circle of Life". After opening on Broadway in 1997 the stage musical has now been seen throughout the world in numerous productions, each bringing the classic story to life in new and inspiring ways. Featuring award-winning puppetry and costume design by Julie Taymor, The Lion King redefines the meaning of magic on stage. As one of the most successful pieces of live entertainment ever created, audiences return year after year to be bowled over by this incredible and iconic musical.

Perfect for: Children (over 6 years old), Special Occasions, Trips to London, School Groups, First Time Theatregoers.


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3. Les Miserables at the Sondheim Theatre

The West End's longest-running musical Les Miserables shows no signs of slowing down. Originally opening at the Barbican Theatre in 1985 the show famously transferred to the West End where it defied the critics to become one of the most well-known musicals of all time. Since being adapted into a major Oscar-nominated film the stage musical has brought in new fans from all over the world who are attracted to the romantic story, wonderful stage designs and iconic score which includes the hits "On My Own", "I Dreamed a Dream", "At the End of the Day" and "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables". Having been revived all over the world, the West End production of Les Miserables is the only place where you can experience the original production in all of its glory.

Perfect for: Teenagers, Date Nights, Anniversaries, Special Occasions, Film fans.


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4. The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre

Second only to Les Mis is Andrew Lloyd Webber's mega-musical The Phantom of the Opera which continues to bring in audiences at the Her Majesty's Theatre over 30 years since it first opened. Based on the Gothic horror novel of the same name this sweepingly romantic musical went on to become one of the most successful pieces of live entertainment in history and continues to hold the record as Broadway's longest running musical of all time. With stunning set designs and visual effects the story of a mysterious opera ghost obsessed with a beautiful young Soprano unfolds against one of Lloyd Webber's most instantly recognisable scores, including the hit songs "All I Ask of You", "Think of Me", "Angel of Music" and of course, "The Phantom of the Opera". Fans from all over the world come to see the musical in London often returning again and again to relive one of the West End's most recognisable institutions.

Perfect for: Adults, Date Nights, Special Occasions, Trips to London, Book fans

5. The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre

One of London's newer musicals, The Book of Mormon exploded onto the West End stage, transferring to the Prince of Wales Theatre following a record-breaking Tony Award-winning opening in New York. From the creators of South Park, this musical comedy is frivolous, naughty and downright shocking and frequently leaves audiences rolling in the aisles with laughter. The Book of Mormon has gone on to become one of the West End's most popular shows despite only opening in 2012, but its tongue-in-cheek attitude and hilarious songs and music continue to keep it playing to sold out houses.

Perfect for: Young Adults, Adults, Dad, First Time Theatregoers, South Park and Comedy fans.


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6. Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre

Lin-Manuel Miranda's sweeping, epic musical may have been an unlikely hit, but it would top many people's lists of Musical of the Decade. Fusing hip-hop, rap, R&B and traditional musical theatre, the narrative follows the life story of Alexander Hamilton, a founding father of the United States and the first Treasury Secretary. While a documentary on the same subject might sound like a bore, Miranda's unique songwriting abilities coupled with a gripping story - which follows his military career as the right-hand man of George Washington fighting the British to his romances with the wealthy Elizabeth Schuyler - demonstrates his outstanding craft of musical theatre. It's won numerous Tony and Olivier awards both in New York and London for its creative choreography, genre-shattering score and stand-out performances. You won't want to throw away your shot at seeing this.

Perfect for: Special Occasions, Trips to London, Date Nights, Musical Theatre fans.


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7. Come From Away at the Phoenix Theatre

An ordinary town with an extraordinary story, Come From Away is set in the Canadian town of Gander where, on 11th September 2001, thousands of passengers found themselves when their planes were diverted in the wake of the biggest attack on America in living memory. It may sound like a worrisome time, but without a second thought, the town's residents opened their hearts and their homes as these 'Come From Aways' became honorary Ganderites. Transferring to the West End from Broadway, Come From Away tells the many incredible tales of the townspeople, passengers and airline crews in a powerful and surprisingly uplifting original musical.

Perfect for: Young Adults, Trips to London, Groups, Date nights.


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8. Matilda the Musical at the Cambridge Theatre

The RSC's musical production of Roald Dahl's much-loved novel Matilda opened in the West End in 2011 and has consistently been delighting audiences since. Opening around the world including a Tony-nominated production on Broadway, Matilda the Musical has gone on to win over 50 major international awards, including 12 for Best Musical. Featuring a smart and witty original score by Tim Minchin this musical adaptation is one of the most successful British musicals of modern times, and entertains audiences both old and young. Winner of seven Olivier Awards it features excellent direction, design and knock-out performances from a highly talented cast of adults and children.

Perfect for: Children, Young Adults, Families, Trips to London.


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9. Mamma Mia! at the Novello Theatre

The West End's biggest party, Mamma Mia! is a show that you already know you're going to love. Featuring a string of ABBA songs this is one of the world's most successful musicals and continues to attract audiences time and again to relive the musical comedy story, fun songs and hilarious characters. Journey to a secluded Greek island and meet single mother Donna who is doing everything she can to throw a wedding for her daughter Sophie. When three possible dads surprise her it's anyone's guess who will end up walking down the aisle. Pull out your flares and get involved with the West End's most loved party musical.

Perfect for: Groups, Trips to London, Special Occasions, First Time Theatregoers


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10. Tina - The Tina Turner Musical at the Aldwych Theatre

Rocking its way into the West End, Tina - The Tina Turner Musical brings to the life story of one of the world’s biggest rock stars to the stage. Charting her life from humble beginnings in Nutbush, Tennessee, her complex relationship with husband Ike Turner, and her eventual triumphant rise to fame, Tina includes the singer’s biggest hits such as “What’s Love Got to Do With It”, “The Best” and “Proud Mary”. With American actress Adrienne Warren blowing audiences away in the title role, this musical has well and truly established itself among West End favourites across the city.

Perfect for: Adults, Groups, Music Fans, Special Occasions, Trips to London.


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