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Finest West Finish Exhibits, Musicals And Stage Performs to Watch in London

Finest West Finish Exhibits, Musicals And Stage Performs to Watch in London

Planning a trip to London soon? Apart from catching an English Premier League football match or two, a West End show is always a brilliant way to spend your time. From award-winning musicals to book adaptations, and from re-tellings of iconic stories to limited-time shows, the city is jam packed with entertainment. If you can’t decide what to watch, we’ve rounded up the best West End musicals, theatre shows and stage plays worth seeing in London.

We’ve got Hamilton for the history buffs, Back to the Future for a dose of nostalgia, and we already know Disney’s Frozen The Musical will be a hit with the kids. And if you adore all things Harry Potter, you simply must catch Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. There are also limited-time only shows, such as Plaza Suite and Hello, Dolly!.

Without further ado, here are the best West End musicals, shows and plays to see in London this year.

best london west end musicals shows and plays
London’s West End is home to some of the best musicals, plays and shows. (Image: Thomas Charters/ Unsplash)

Best West End shows and musicals in London

Best West End shows for families

Best London musicals

Last minute theatre tickets for London tonight

Limited time only West End shows

Best West End shows and London musicals to see in 2024

The King and I

best london west end musicals shows and plays
The King and I stars Helen George. (Image: Ticketmaster)

The multi-award-winning theatre production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I starring Call The Midwife‘s Helen George has returned to the West End following its record-breaking performances at The London Palladium and sell-out UK Tour, and it tells the story we all know and love. The King and I would be a great family-friendly activity to treat your loved ones to this January.

Buy The King and I tickets from GBP 25 at Ticketmaster

Hamnet

best london west end musicals plays and shows
The cast of Hamnet. (Image: Manuel Harlan/ RSC)

Based on the bestselling book by Maggie O’Farrell, Hamnet is coming to the West End for a limited 14-week run this autumn. The production by the Royal Shakespeare Company has been in Stratford-upon-Avon, and transfers to the Garrick Theatre from 30th September 2023 until 17th February 2024.

The play follows the story of playwright William Shakespeare and his wife Agnes Hathaway as they experience emotional turmoil in the aftermath of the death of their only son.

Buy tickets for Hamnet from GBP 30 at London Theatre Direct

Cabaret

best london west end musicals shows and plays
Cabaret. (Image: London Theatre Direct)

Cabaret is currently showing at the Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse in London’s West End. A night at Cabaret promises to be an experience as well as a night out — guests are invited to immerse themselves in the club experience and can even drink and dine before diving into the world of inhibition-free Berlin.

The musical, which stars Rebecca Lucy Taylor as Sally Bowles and Jake Shears as Emcee, has won seven Olivier Awards and is currently booking until September 2024.

Buy Cabaret tickets from GBP 37 at London Theatre Direct

Plaza Suite

best london west end musicals shows and plays
Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick star in Plaza Suite. (Image: Love Theatre)

Husband and wife duo Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick are starring in the West End debut of Plaza Suite: A play which follows three couples (all played by Parker and Broderick) in one hotel room. The award-winning actors will take on the roles of a couple about to celebrate their anniversary, a movie producer and his former high school girlfriend, who is now married, as well as the parents of a nervous bride-to-be on her wedding day.

Plaza Suite is performing at the Savoy Theatre for a limited time only — from 15th January until the 31st March 2024 — and you can buy tickets from now.

Buy Plaza Suite tickets from GBP 109.50 at LOVEtheatre

Operation Mincemeat

best london west end musicals shows and plays
Operation Mincemeat. (Image: ATG Tickets)

Theatre fans will be aware that The Woman in Black ended its 33-year stint on the West End this year; the terrifying play was performed at the Fortune Theatre in the heart of London’s West End, and filling the boots of The Woman in Black is Operation Mincemeat. This sharp-witted comedy tells the real-life story of a WWII operation, and answers the question: How did a well-dressed corpse wrong-foot Hitler? If you’re thinking that this musical sounds extremely bizarre, you’d be absolutely right.

Buy Operation Mincemeat tickets from GBP 39.50 at ATG Tickets

The Merchant of Venice 1936

best london west end musicals shows and plays
The Merchant of Venice 1936 performs for a limited time this year. (Image: Mark Brenner/ London Theatre Direct)

Coming to London’s West End directly from the Royal Shakespeare Company is The Merchant of Venice 1936, starring Tracy-Ann Oberman, which will be performing for a very limited time only run, from 15th February until 23rd March 2024.

If you’re not familiar with the story of The Merchant of Venice 1936, Shakespeare’s tale is set against a background of political unrest, and you should expect power, ambition, and even revenge.

Buy The Merchant of Venice 1936 tickets from GBP 22 at London Theatre Direct

The Unfriend

The Unfriend. (Image: London Theatre Direct)

The Unfriend is returning to the West End after its sold-out run at The Chichester Festival Theatre and its critically-acclaimed performances at The Criterion. The play stars Lee Mack, Frances Barber, and Sarah Alexander, and it follows the story of couple Pete and Debbie as they meet widow Elsa on holiday. The trio agree to keep in touch, and Elsa invites herself to stay with the couple a few months later, sounds sweet, right? Wrong. The play turns into a game of cat and mouse, and there’s murder on the cards, too.

Buy The Unfriend tickets from GBP 25 at London Theatre Direct

The Little Big Things Musical

best london west end musicals shows and plays
The Little Big Things is based on a best-selling autobiography. (Image: TodayTix)

The Little Big Things is based on the best-selling autobiography of the same name by Henry Fraser, and it follows the story of Fraser and his family as they all navigate a new way of living post a sports accident that changed Fraser’s life.

The musical is directed by Olivier Award winner Luke Sheppard, who is the director of My Son’s a Queer (but What Can You Do?) and & Juliet, too, and if The Little Big Things Musical is as good as My Son’s a Queer, then you’re sure to be in for a treat!

Buy The Little Big Things Musical tickets from GBP 23 at TodayTix

Six the Musical

best london west end musicals shows and plays
Six is a bizarre retelling of the lives of Henry VIII’s six wives. (Image: Pamela Raith/ London Theatre Direct)

If you watched the Platinum Jubilee concert, you would have caught a glimpse of this bizarre retelling of the lives of Henry VIII’s six wives. In the musical, each wife takes it in turns to share their story of how they were wronged by the Tudor King, and why that means they should be the lead singer of the wives’ pop group.

Buy Six the Musical West End tickets from GBP 39 at London Theatre Direct

Originally debuting at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017, Six is now touring the UK, with performances in Manchester, Oxford, Glasgow and more.

Buy Six the Musical UK tour tickets from GBP 13 at ATG Tickets

Hamilton

hamilton - best london west end musicals shows and plays
Hamilton makes its way to London’s West End in September 2024. (Image: Hamilton/ London Theatre Direct)

As the winner of the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Hamilton is a brilliant choice if you’re in London this winter and want to treat yourself to a West End show.

A blend of hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B and Broadway is the musical backdrop to this show, which tells the true(ish) story of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers and George Washington’s right-hand man.

Also, in case you haven’t heard, Hamilton will be staged in Singapore this year from 19th April to 26th May.

Buy Hamilton tickets from GBP 25 at London Theatre Direct

The Enfield Haunting

The Enfield Haunting is based on the first-hand accounts of a ghost hunter. (Image: ATG Tickets)

Spooky season may have come to a close, but is it ever not the right time to get your ghoul on, particularly with these dark nights? We don’t think so! The Enfield Haunting is the perfect play for your ghostly fix now that 2:22 A Ghost Story and The Woman In Black aren’t currently showing.

This limited time only run is based on the first-hand accounts of a ghost hunter: The Enfield Haunting follows the true story of a single mum who tries to protect her three children from a mysterious and unusual force. The play stars Catherine Tate and David Threlfall of Shameless fame.

Buy The Enfield Haunting tickets from GBP 25 at ATG Tickets

Matilda the Musical

Matilda The Musical is adapted from Roald Dahl’s much-loved book. (Image: Matilda The Musical)

Adapted from Roald Dahl’s much-loved book of the same name, Matilda is taking bookings up to December for the Cambridge Theatre in London. You know exactly what you’re getting with this musical: Wholesome, family-friendly fun.

Buy Matilda the Musical tickets from £20 at Matilda the Musical

The Lion King

the lion king - best london west end musicals shows and plays
The Lion King features music by Elton John. (Image: The Lion King/ Facebook)

A story we all know and love. Based on the 1994 Walt Disney movie of the same name, The Lion King musical play features music from Elton John, actors in decadent animal costumes and giant hollow puppets. The show opened in the Lyceum Theatre over 20 years ago in 1999, and is still going strong after more than 7,500 performances.

It’s the top-earning title in box-office history, surpassing The Phantom of the Opera, and even the Royal Family have seen a performance of this much-loved story.

Buy The Lion King tickets from GBP 35 at ATG Tickets

Wicked

wicked - best london west end musicals shows and plays
Wicked. (Image: Wicked UK/ Matt Crockett/ Facebook)

Wicked knows a thing or two about being ‘Popular’! This musical is the prequel to The Wizard of Oz, and it tells the story of Elphaba (the future Wicked Witch of the West) and her friendship with Glinda (the Good Witch of the South). It was nominated for six Tony awards, including Best Actress. Come November, there’ll also be a Wicked movie starring Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo.

Buy Wicked tickets from GBP 27.50 at Ticketmaster

Frozen: The West End Musical

Frozen: The West End Musical brings to life the popular Disney film. (Image: Frozen: The West End Musical)

Back in January 2019, the Theatre Royal Drury Lane embarked on an ambitious project to restore its historic theatre to its former 1812 glory. Last year it reopened its doors with showings of Disney’s Frozen. The jaw-dropping sets and special effects really make this musical magical as it brings to life the scenery from the film.

Buy Frozen the Musical tickets from GBP 29.50 at LW Theatres

Back to the Future: The Musical

Back to the Future Musical. (Image: Back to the Future Musical)

If the hugely enthusiastic description on From The Box Office is anything to go by, Back to the Future: The Musical will be the most electrifying experience of your entire life — possibly more important than, say, childbirth. The musical follows the plot of the blockbuster film: Teenager Marty McFly is blasted back in time to the year 1955 by eccentric scientist Doc Brown and unwittingly changes the course of history.

Buy Back to the Future: The Musical tickets from GBP 19.55 at Ticketmaster

The Book of Mormon

book of mormon - best london west end musicals shows and plays
The Book of Mormon is a comedy musical. (Image: The Book of Mormon)

From the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, comes this comedy musical about two Latter-Day missionaries who are posted to a remote Ugandan village to preach the faith of the Church, and to convert its inhabitants to Mormonism. The locals are uninterested, however, as they face more pressing issues such as famine, HIV/AIDS, FGM, and oppression from their warlord.

Buy Book of Mormon tickets from GBP 22 at Ticketmaster

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is based on the J.K Rowling book. (Image: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child/ Facebook)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a two-part play written by Jack Thorne and based on J.K. Rowling’s original story. It follows Harry, Ron and Hermione 19 years after they saved the wizarding world, and they’re joined by a new generation of wizards and witches to stop mysterious evil forces for another time.

Buy Harry Potter and the Cursed Child tickets from GBP 15.75 at The Ticket Factory

Les Misérables

Les Misérables. (Image: Les Misérables)

What makes West End’s longest-running musical so magical is how immersive it is; with the backdrops of paintings by Victor Hugo, Les Misérables’ author, and the powerful performances from every single member of the cast, you feel like you’re at the heart of the action.

Buy Les Misérables tickets from GBP 31 at London Theatre Direct

Hello, Dolly!

BAFTA award-winning actress Imelda Staunton will be taking on the titular role of Dolly Levi in the West End premiere of the Hello, Dolly! musical. This London theatre show follows Dolly as she travels to Yonkers in New York to find a match for ‘half-a-millionaire’ Horace Vandergelder. However, while she’s there, Dolly decides that the next match she makes shouldn’t be for just anyone, it should be for herself.

Hello, Dolly! is showing for a limited time only — from Saturday 6th July to Saturday 14th September 2024 — at The London Palladium.

Buy Hello, Dolly! tickets from GBP 23 at TodayTix

For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy

best london west end musicals shows and plays
A scene from For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy. (Image: Garrick Theatre)

With a strictly limited nine week run, the Olivier-nominated For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy is an unmissable play — so don’t let it pass you by. Ryan Calais Cameron’s play follows six young black men speaking in a group therapy session and explores the complicated theme of what it means to be a black man in Britain.

Characters talk about everything, from love, fashion and jollof rice to societal pressure and police harassment. You can witness their revelations at the Garrick Theatre from 29th February until 4th May 2024.

Buy For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy tickets from GBP 19 at London Theatre Direct

See Also

TINA: The Tina Turner Musical

Aldwych Theatre welcomes you to TINA. The musical includes all of the late great Tina Turner’s much-loved songs, and follows her journey to stardom, from her humble beginnings in Tennessee to the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll — with her live performances selling more tickets than any other solo artist across the globe. It showcases all the ups and downs along Tina’s way, and you’ll leave the theatre feeling very motivated.

Buy TINA: The Tina Turner Musical tickets from GBP 20 at London Theatre Direct

The Phantom of the Opera

phantom - best london west end musicals shows and plays
The Phantom of the Opera has been performing for over 30 years now. (Image: The Phantom of the Opera)

It’s one of the most popular theatre shows and one of the West End’s most enduring love stories. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera has been performing for over 30 years now, and shows no sign of slowing down.

If you aren’t already familiar with the compelling plot, the show tells the story of the Phantom, who seeks to control the Paris Opera House. He finds a new student, a chorus girl called Christine, and trains her to sing the music of the night.

Buy The Phantom of the Opera tickets from GBP 28 at London Theatre Direct

Stranger Things: The First Shadow

Stranger Things: The First Shadow acts as a prequel to the hit Netflix series. (Image: Stranger Things: The First Shadow)

Stranger Things: The First Shadow is a play that acts as a prequel to the series, and is filled with the same friendship and nostalgia that fans are familiar with from the screen. Here’s everything you need to know about Stranger Things season 5.

Buy Stranger Things: The First Shadow tickets from GBP 20 at ATG Tickets

Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge. (Image: Matt Crockett/ Moulin Rouge The Musical London)

Moulin Rouge follows the story of Christian, a young writer who meets and falls in love with cabaret dancer, Satine. The duo unfortunately can’t be together, and this musical shows their love story filled with joy, heartbreak and despair.

Buy Moulin Rouge tickets from GBP 30 at Headout

Everything to know about watching London West End shows, musicals and plays

What time do West End shows start and finish?

Like with the price, this depends entirely on the show, and whether you’ve got a matinee or evening performance. Most shows run for two hours to two and a half hours, with a 15-minute interval. A matinee performance usually starts at 2:30pm, whereas the evening performances will begin around 7:30pm.

West End show weekend breaks and hotel stays

If you’re travelling to London for a West End show, it makes sense to spend a few days in the city; especially if you’re planning on seeing an evening performance which will have you leaving the theatre at around 10pm (that’s our bedtime!).

There are a number of websites, like Holiday Extras, where you can book your theatre tickets and hotel in one go. You can choose which theatre show you’d love to see, then select how many nights you’ll stay around your chosen date, and it’ll suggest hotels just a stone’s throw away from the theatre.

Plus, as it’s a package deal — a theatre show and hotel combo — you’ll save a couple of quid, too.

Theatre-goers waiting to watch Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. (Image: Elizabeth Jamieson/ Unsplash)

What is the easiest way to get to the West End?

Travelling to the West End when you live outside of London can seem like a mean feat. But we’re here to reassure you that it can be done with minimal faff and on a budget, too.

Train timetables are usually released 12 weeks in advance, and train operators put cheap train tickets on sale shortly afterwards. The nearer your travel date, the more expensive the train tickets will be, so be sure to snap-up tickets as soon as possible.

Railcards are also a great way to save a couple of quid on your travel — 1/3 of the total ticket fare to be precise. Find the right Railcard for you at Trainline.

If you live too far away from London to comfortably travel there and back in one day, and let’s face it, a lot of us do, you may want to consider an overnight stay. Airbnb offers private rooms and entire homes all across London, so you’re bound to find somewhere that fits your budget.

What are the best seats in a theatre?

best london west end musicals shows and plays
For maximum viewing pleasure, splurge on good seats at the theatre. (Image: Donald Tong/ Pexels)

If money is no object, you might as well spend a bit more to get closer to the action at a West End show. However, with all the different parts of the auditorium, it can be tricky to know where to select seats which guarantee the best viewing experience; so we’ve done the difficult work for you.

Here’s the breakdown of all the seats in a theatre, and where to sit for maximum viewing enhancement.

The Stalls are considered the best seats in the house as they’re on the ground floor and closest to the stage. In a lot of West End theatres, there will be rows and rows of ground-floor seats, so you can choose to be on the front row, somewhere in the middle, or right at the back; the closer you are to the stage, the pricier your seats will be.

The Dress Circle, sometimes referred to as the Royal Circle, is the next level up from the ground floor. The Dress Circle gives audience members an advantage as they can see what’s happening across the whole stage — something that people in the stalls might not be able to do, particularly for props or characters at the back of the stage.

Next up is the Upper Circle, also called the Grand Circle. This is another level up again, and will be one of the cheaper theatre tickets available (unless the theatre has a Balcony which not many of them do). You’ll be able to see everything on the stage, however, you may miss finer details, such as an actor’s facial expression.

The cheapest seats in the house are Restricted View. All theatres will sell tickets for what they deem a ‘restricted view’, where your line of vision may be obstructed by a safety rail or a pillar.

Sitting in a box is an excellent way to make your trip to the theatre even more memorable. Typically located on the same level as the Dress Circle, a box can be hired out for just you and your party, which means you get perks like strangers not squeezing past you to go to the loo during a dramatic moment.

(Main image: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child/ Facebook; Featured image: Hamilton/ Danny Kaan/ Facebook)

This story first appeared on www.radiotimes.com

© Immediate Media Company London Limited, 2023. All rights reserved. First published on RadioTimes.com and reproduced with permission of Immediate Media Company London Limited. Reproduction in any manner in any language in whole or in part without prior written permission is prohibited. Radio Times and the Radio Times logo are registered trade marks of Immediate Media Company London Limited and used under licence.



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