Best musicals in London

Piwee

02 May 2020

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If you are going to the UK soon, there is one thing that should be on your London Bucket List: going to see a musical!

London West End is to Europe what Broadway is to the USA. All the most famous productions are in London and it’s something you shouldn’t be missing out on!

 

Most theatres are located in the entertainment district: West End.
London West End includes some very famous places such as Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.

 

The amazing thing about the theatre scene in London is not only the shows themselves but also the venues! Each theatre is a historical building with beautiful architecture! The facades, stages and auditoriums are stunning!

 

In this article, you will discover the best musicals in London!
You will also learn how to get there, how to buy tickets and tips to make your theatre experience in London magical!

 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost for you! This helps towards the upkeep of this website for which I am very grateful.

 

best musicals london

 

Les Miserables

 

Recommended by Jenna from I know the Pilot

 

les miserables best musicals london

 

Les Miserables is a classic, well-loved story – originally written by Victor Hugo as a novel, it tells the tale of Jean Valjean, a reformed prisoner who attempts to better his life and circumstances, all the while attempting to evade the incredibly tenacious inspector Jalvert, who is determined to find him. Along the way, Jean Valjean becomes wealthy and adopts the child of one of his factory workers, who then grows up beautifully and steals the heart of a student revolutionary named Marius. Amidst a violent rebellion, where Marius is gravely injured, true characters are revealed, some die and there is a (mostly) happy ending.

 

The musical itself takes place in the Queens Theatre in London, with a frequently changing fresh, young cast. Many of the actors are recent drama school graduates, bringing new energy which makes the play feel more authentic and less ‘staged’. The set is minimalist, with only a few large pieces, though there is so much going on that it doesn’t depreciate from the visual effects. The cast, superbly costumed, make up for the lack of scenery with an energy that completely takes the room.

 

Les Miserables has been showing in London since 1985, making it the second longest-running musical in the world! With a three-hour running time (including a twenty-minute interval), this is one that is worth packing your snacks for. That being said, the time flies, because this musical is so much fun. Consistently running at 90%+ capacity, there is a reason this show is still a fan-favourite!

 

*Note – The musical has experienced a few changes recently, having been moved back and forth to the refurbished Sondheim Theatre (formerly Queens Theatre, it’s original home), on Shaftesbury Avenue, with a new cast, new choreography, costumes and sets. It has been playing there since December 2019; however, with the current crisis not many have had the opportunity to see it. As soon as we’re able, we will be back to check out the newest adaption of this fantastic piece.

 

Les Miserables is a fantastic story, whatever format it is told in, and we hope it will be around for another 30 years.

 

INFORMATION ABOUT LES MISERABLES:

 

Where is it? Sondheim Theatre
Address: 51 Shaftesbury Ave, Soho, London W1D 6BA
How to get there? Take the Northern or Piccadilly Line to Leicester Square. The theatre is 4 minutes walk from the underground station.
How to book tickets? Information and tickets for Les Miserables are available here.

 

 

The Phantom of the Opera

 

Recommended by Sydney from A world in Reach

 

The Phantom of the Opera is one of the world’s most famous musicals and the second longest-running musical in the West End. Originally based on the book Le Fantôme de l’Opéra by Gaston Leroux, the musical was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and was adapted into a film in 2004. The Phantom of the Opera opened in the West End’s Her Majesty’s Theatre in 1986 and it can still be seen there today.

 

The Phantom of the Opera tells the story of the Phantom, a mysterious composer with a disfigured face living beneath the Paris Opera House, and Christine Daaé, a beautiful soprano who becomes the obsession of the Phantom. The Phantom becomes Christine’s musical mentor and attempts to win her love, which is throttled when Christine reconnects with a childhood friend.

 

The set of the musical is very ornate and features a chandelier, a sweeping staircase, and a subterranean gondola. The Phantom of the Opera’s costume design is Tony Award winning and includes one of the most elaborate wardrobes among all musicals. One of the simplest yet most famous costumes featured in the musical is that of the Phantom, particularly his iconic half-faced mask.

 

Seeing The Phantom of the Opera on stage in London was an incredible experience, especially after seeing the film and singing songs from the musical in high school choir. There’s a good reason that the Phantom of the Opera is one of the most famous musicals in the world – the story is very captivating and the production is visually appealing. Whether you’re a new fan of musicals or an aficionado, seeing The Phantom of the Opera in London is a must.

 

INFORMATION ABOUT THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA:

 

Where is it? Her Majesty’s Theatre
Address: Haymarket, St. James’s, London SW1Y 4QL
How to get there? Take the Northern or Piccadilly Line to Leicester Square. The theatre is 7 minutes walk from the underground station.
How to book tickets? Information and tickets for The Phantom of the Opera are available here.

 

The Lion King

 

Recommended by Greta from London Dreaming

 

lion king lyceum best musicals london

 

The Lion King is, in my opinion, the best musical in London. Whether you used to be a fan of the Disney cartoon as a child, or it’s your first time seeing it, you’re guaranteed to have an awesome time.

 

The Lion King has been showing at the Lyceum Theatre since 1999. The fact that it’s been going on for so many years, and is almost always sold out, shows just how incredible the musical is!

 

The set and costumes are simply amazing. All the performers wear animal costumes, some more elaborate than others. For example, the lions have quite simple costumes with lion headpieces, whilst the giraffes walk on four stilts and have huge headpieces with long giraffe necks.

 

However, my favourite part is always going to be the music. Watching the classic Disney songs performed with such passion on stage, in an explosion of colours, is really touching.

 

Top tip: get a seat by the aisle, there are scenes in the musical when animals walk through the audience to reach the stage. That way you’ll be really close and be able to see the costumes properly!

 

INFORMATION ABOUT THE LION KING:

 

Where is it? Lyceum Theatre
Address: 21 Wellington St, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7RQ
How to get there? Take the Piccadilly Line to Covent Garden. The theatre is 7 minutes walk from the underground station.
How to book tickets? Information and tickets for The Lion King are available here.

 

Matilda

 

Mathilda musical cheap theatre tickets

 

If there is one musical you definitely can not miss during your trip to England, it’s this one! Matilda is the best musical I’ve ever gotten to see.

 

Based on the best-selling children book by Roald Dahl, Matilda is a beautiful stage adaptation!

But before we drill into details let’s talk about the piece in itself. Roald Dahl is probably the most famous Welsh author of all time. If you don’t know Matilda, you probably heard of his other best-selling book: Charlie and the chocolate factory (I know, we all remember things when Johnny Depp is involved!)

 

“You don’t choose your family” they say? Well, this is exactly what Matilda is all about. Matilda is a gifted little girl born in the wrong family. Her father is distant and her mum who always dreamt about being a professional dancer is not quite what we would call the best mum ever.

 

Matilda is an avid reader and a very smart little girl which makes her the perfect target for bullies at school.

Besides being a beautiful story, Matilda also puts on an amazing show! Costumes and make-up are a bit eccentric, which brings a lot to the story.
The music is beautiful too but the best thing is, without a shadow of a doubt, the choreographies!
They are absolutely spot on! Everything about the dancing is amazing. The perfect definition of synchronisation!

 

If you are travelling with kids, Mathilda is the perfect choice but even as an adult, it will become one of the best musicals you’ll ever get to see!

 

INFORMATION ABOUT MATILDA:

 

Where is it? Cambridge Theatre
Address: Earlham St, West End, London WC2H 9HU
How to get there? Take the Northern or Piccadilly Line to Leicester Square. The theatre is 5 minutes walk from the underground station.

How to book tickets? Information and tickets for Matilda are available here.

 

 

Wicked

 

wicked best musicals london

 

Wicked is one of the rare musicals in London that doesn’t take place in the West End! That said, it doesn’t make it any less interesting!

Wicked has been performed in London since 2006, at the Apollo Victoria Theatre.

Located right in front of one of the underground exits at Victoria Station, you can’t miss the Wicked theatre. At night, the green lights illuminate the whole building!

 

Wicked is one of the best musicals in London.

 

Based on the Gregory Maguire novel, Wicked is a retelling of the world-famous classic 1900 novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.
The story is quite different this time as we focus on the Wicked Witch rather than on Dorothy. With Wicked, we are looking into the witches perspectives, far beyond the story of Dorothy.

 

This makes it particularly interesting as the plot brings new elements to the table while being somewhat something we know.

Wicked has spared no expense to create a show full of magic and illusions. The theatre belongs to the witches now!
The costumes are beautiful and very different from anything else you might have seen before.
The music is modern and catchy, you can only love it!

 

Wicked is packed with surprises, coups de theatre, illusions, twists… it is magical! Something you can not miss in London!

 

INFORMATION ABOUT WICKED:

 

Where is it? Apollo Victoria Theatre
Address: 17 Wilton Rd, Pimlico, London SW1V 1LG
How to get there? Take the Circle, District or Victoria line to Victoria Station. The theatre is located right in front of the Wilton Road exit.
How to book tickets? Information and tickets for Wicked are available here.

 

 

Book of Mormon

 

best musicals london book of mormon

 

The book of Mormon is a broadway musical that premiered in 2011. It was first performed in London and 2013. The success was immediate and that’s why it has been running ever since at the Prince of Wales Theatre.

The Book of Mormon is a rather particular musical and I am not going to lie, it’s a hit or miss! You will either love it or hate it. Regardless, you will for sure have an opinion!

 

The musical tells us the story of two Mormon missionaries that are sent to Uganda, Africa, to preach their beliefs. As you may imagine, this is going to be what we could call a bumpy road!

 

The book of Mormon tackles topics that are rarely mentioned at the theatre such as homophobia, religion, sex… Moreover, the vocabulary employed is rather unusual, there is a lot of swearing… a lot!

 

Alright, so now you’re wondering how it made it to the list of best musicals in London! Here is why!

I am one of the people who LOVED the Book of Mormon. It is one of the best musicals I’ve ever seen and believe me, I saw a lot of them.

 

The music is modern. The lyrics are smart and funny. The costumes and stage are stunning. The dancing is spot on! Everything about it is perfect.
But more importantly: it’s hilarious!

 

It is genuinely the funniest thing I’ve ever seen at the theatre. Whether it’s the dialogues or the behaviours, everything is just hilarious.

That said, you do need to have a certain sense of humour. You need to be able to not take things literally. If you want to learn more about this musical, you can check out my full review of the Book of Mormon.

 

INFORMATION ABOUT THE BOOK OF MORMON:

 

Where is it? Prince Of Wales Theatre
Address: Coventry St, West End, London W1D 6AS
How to get there? Take the Northern or Piccadilly Line to Leicester Square. The theatre is 2 minutes walk from the underground station.

How to book tickets? Information and tickets for the Book of Mormon are available here.

 

 

Hamilton

 

Recommended by Bilal from Travel in Time Now

 

hamilton best musicals london

 

You don’t have to be a musical fanatic to enjoy one of the infinite musicals in London’s most famous Theatreland – West End. Some of our favourite productions include Lion King and Aladdin which bring Disney to life, Les Misérables which gives testament to the survival of the human spirit, and the world-renowned Hamilton.

 

What is Hamilton About?
Hamilton is an American hip-hop musical based on the life of Alexander Hamilton – one of the founding fathers of the United States. The musical portrays his life as the epitome of the “American Dream,” where anyone with a vision and hard work can make a name for themselves. Hamilton was a bastard orphan from a whore and grew up in extreme poverty. So how did he rise to such an impactful position?

 

Why did we want to watch it so bad?
In a period of diversity and immigration, this play hit home. Its core message is about diversity, inclusiveness and immigration. Hamilton himself was an immigrant and rose up to be one of the founders of “the land of the free.” Not to mention, the majority of the actors in the play are all people of colour, and to top it off, it’s a hip-hop musical! That’s a fusion we had to experience. Never have I been more interested and enjoyed learning about American history.

 

How We Landed Hamilton Tickets
Weeks went by in Chicago as we searched for tickets to Hamilton, but it was sold out or the tickets were ridiculously expensive even for upper-level seats. (We’re talking $200/person!) We gave up, but after a few months, we found ourselves walking the streets of West End one night while travelling through London.
This was our chance! As we asked around the ticket booths in Leicester Square, they all smirked and said it’d be impossible because it’s booked out for months. Determined, we walked up to London’s Victoria Palace Theatre at 6:30 PM (the show started at 7) and were told to wait in the “returned tickets” queue. Ten minutes later with our ears half frozen, we walked in with a pair of tickets only paying $100!

 

INFORMATION ABOUT HAMILTON:

Where is it? Victoria Palace Theatre
Address: 79 Victoria St, Westminster, London SW1E 5EA
How to get there? Take the Northern or Piccadilly Line to Leicester Square. The theatre is 4 minutes walk from the underground station.
Take the Circle, District or Victoria line to Victoria Station. The theatre is located by the main exit of Terminus Place (Wilton Road).

How to book tickets? Information and tickets for Hamilton are available here.

 

 

Thriller Live

 

Recommended by Darek from Darek and Gosia

 

thriller best musicals london

 

London has been known for a long time for its great musicals. And West End is for Europeans what Broadway is for Americans – a London’s Neighbourhood that never sleeps! Many of the shows here have been playing for years with hundreds of famous actors and countless crowds of viewers who besiege this part of the city every evening.

 

Musical “Thriller Live” is a unique tribute to the king of pop, Michael Jackson. Feel like a concert by a famous artist and see an unforgettable show. Book tickets at the Lyric Theatre which is located on Shaftesbury Avenue – the nearest tube station is Piccadilly Circus.

 

Thriller Live” is an unforgettable show with spectacular special effects and fantastic choreography. You will see the characteristic dance moves of Michael Jackson on the stage and listen to his biggest hits.

 

The show is a musical journey through the work of the king of pop. The history of Michael Jackson‘s stage performances is over 40 years, from the early beginnings of the band Jackson 5 to an unparalleled solo career. Over the years, the artist has sold over 750 million records. “Thriller” is today the best-selling album in the world.

 

During the show, which lasts over 2 hours, you will hear hits such as “I’ll Be There”, “Can You Feel It”, “Beat It”, “Earth Song “, “Thriller “and many more!
Are you ready to see one of the best musicals in London?

 

INFORMATION ABOUT THRILLER LIVE:

 

Where is it? Lyric Theatre
Address: 29 Shaftesbury Ave, Soho, London W1D 7ES
How to get there? Take the Northern or Piccadilly Line to Leicester Square. The theatre is 5 minutes walk from the underground station.

How to book tickets? Information and tickets for Thriller Live are available here.

 

 

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

 

Recommended by Derek and Mike from Robe Trotting

 

everybody's talking about jamie best musicals london

 

Earlier this year we spent a long weekend in London and booked theatre tickets for a night in the West End, required programming from any gay London guide. Since we planned the trip in the shoulder season, we could easily get tickets for most shows.

We picked Everybody’s Talking About Jamie based on the buzz it was getting from friends and the fact that it was attracting runs from some of our favourite stars. When we saw the show, Michelle Visage had just finished her run and Bianca Del Rio was slated to enter the cast the following month. A cast member of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, Vinegar Strokes, was in the cast when we saw the show.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is the story of Jamie New, a teenage student who is curious about the world of drag. He has dreams of being a famous drag performer and this often clashes with his life as a student and affects his relationship with his estranged father. The set is cleverly designed and student desks become stages and runways in fun and innovative scene changes. The cast is a multi-cultural ensemble and the story is heart-warming and empowering. This all takes place in the ornate Apollo theatre, a gem in The West End.

 

INFORMATION ABOUT EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE:

 

Where is it? Apollo Theatre
Address: Shaftesbury Ave, Soho, London W1D 7EZ
How to get there? Take the Northern or Piccadilly Line to Leicester Square. The theatre is 5 minutes walk from the underground station.

How to book tickets? Information and tickets for Everybody’s talking about Jamie are available here.

 

 

& Juliet

 

Recommended by Emma from Emma Online

 

& juliet best musicals london

 

If you are looking for a fun night out full of glitter, sparkle and poptastic hits then look no further than ‘& Juliet’ currently playing at the Shaftesbury Theatre in the heart of London’s West End.

Everyone knows the story of the star crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet don’t they? But have you ever wished the story had a different ending? Well, wish no more. ‘& Juliet’ tells the story of what might have happened if Juliet hadn’t died.
Featuring the music of songwriter Max Martin – you may not have heard of him but you’ll definitely recognise many of his songs – the musical follows Juliet as she sets out to prove there is life after Romeo.

Packed with pop anthems including Baby Hit Me One More Time, Love Me Like You Do and Roar (to name just a few) the show is a journey of female empowerment and self-discovery with more than a few laughs along the way.

As with most jukebox musicals, the plot is a little thin but it’s the songs along with the stellar cast and creatives that bring it to life. The songs are effortlessly weaved into the storyline, the staging a riot of colour and the whole cast provide stand out performances.

& Juliet’ is not subtle and it’s a little in your face at times but it’s got a good heart and you’ll leave the theatre feeling uplifted, inspired and most definitely humming along to the songs. And if you are anything like me you’ll be booking to see it again.
If you are a pop fan you won’t find a better night out in the West End.

 

INFORMATION ABOUT & JULIET:

 

Where is it? Shaftesbury Theatre
Address: 210 Shaftesbury Ave, West End, London WC2H 8DP
How to get there? Take the Northern or Central Line to Tottenham Court Road. The theatre is 6 minutes walk from the underground station.

How to book tickets? Information and tickets for & Juliet are available here.

 

 

Come from Away

 

If you love travelling, Come from Away is the perfect musical for you! Based on a true story, it’s about these 7000 passengers that were grounded in the small town of Gander, Canada, on 9/11. As the news of the terrorist attacks in New-York City started spreading, a lot of flights were diverted and landed in unexpected places such as this one!

The plot revolves about the residents of Gander who hosted the passengers.

The beautiful thing about Come from Away is how accurate the facts are. The directors spent a lot of time interviewing locals and passengers before putting together this funny and beautifully done musical.

Quite exciting right?
Here is what the critics from the Times said about it: “This musical gets everything right. Irresistible and inspiring.”

This is the perfect musical for travel lovers!

 

INFORMATION ABOUT COME FROM AWAY:

 

Where is it? Phoenix Theatre
Address: Charing Cross Rd, West End, London WC2H 0JP
How to get there? Take the Northern or Central Line to Tottenham Court Road. The theatre is 2 minutes walk from the underground station.

How to book tickets? Information and tickets for Come from away are available here.

 

 

Six The Musical

 

Recommended by Mandi from East Anglia Family Fun

 

six best musicals london

 

Six The Musical is quite a new addition to the London Theatre Shows, it originally made its debut at the Edinburgh Fringe and has gone on to huge success, already having its run extended in London.

It tells the story of Henry VIII and his six wives, everyone knows the saying Divorced, beheaded died, divorced, beheaded, survived, well this show is going to give you so much more information, you will never forget any of the six!

The six wives of Henry VIII take to the microphone to tell their tales, remixing five hundred years of historical heartbreak into a 75-minute celebration of 21st-century girl power, and it’s one you won’t forget in a hurry.

The costumes are sparkly and sassy, all six wives are phenomenal, set like a pop concert the entire show has you gripped from the first moment, in fact it passes way too quickly, each of the wives tells their story in song, with VERY catchy tunes, that myself and my daughters sing along to all the time, even my youngest daughter who is 11, knows the songs, so has no trouble recalling information about this period in history, so not only is it a very entertaining show, but it’s educational too!

 

INFORMATION ABOUT SIX:

 

Where is it? Arts Theatre
Address: 6-7 Great Newport Street, London WC2H 7JB
How to get there? Take the Northern or Piccadilly Line to Leicester Square. The theatre is 1 minute walk from the underground station.

How to book tickets? Information and tickets for Six are available here.

 

 

Man of La Mancha

 

Recommended by Sofia and Patu from Trip Trip Now

 

man of la mancha best musicals london

 

Our last trip to London gave us an unexpected gift: two tickets to see Man of La Mancha at the London Coliseum, one of the best-equipped theatres in the city. We had never been to a theatre in the West End, so when the opportunity came, we just didn’t doubt it. Besides, a Spanish friend had seen this musical in Madrid a couple of months earlier, during its tournée around Europe, and he had really enjoyed it.

 

For us, Man of La Mancha would be a musical version of Don Quijote, one of the biggest novels of all time, written by Miguel de Cervantes around 1605. We knew that it had been a Broadway huge hit in the 1960s, it became a film starring legendary actor Peter O’Toole and that it had been revived in theatres a couple of times in a dozen of languages. But we were not aware that it is NOT a musical version of the original Don Quijote. However, we really liked it as it is fun and very well produced.

 

It is more “a play within a play”, with Miguel de Cervantes sent into a dungeon while waiting to be judged by the Spanish Inquisition, in a sort of futuristic scenery. Cervantes’ fellow prisoners wish to destroy his manuscript of “Don Quixote de la Mancha”, which makes him propose a game – to stage the story themselves. At the end of it, the prisoners should decide if he is innocent or guilty. At this point, we are all totally dazzled by the musical, and got home really, really happy.

 

INFORMATION ABOUT MAN OF LA MANCHA:

 

Where is it? London Coliseum
Address: London Coliseum, St Martin’s Ln, London WC2N 4ES
How to get there? Take the Northern or Piccadilly Line to Leicester Square. The theatre is 3 minutes walk from the underground station.

How to book tickets? Information and tickets for Man of La Mancha are available here.

 

 

HOW TO BOOK TICKETS TO SEE A MUSICAL IN LONDON

 

The best way to book tickets is online. All London musicals get booked very quickly. If you want to make sure to get tickets, it’s better to do it online.
You can choose your date, time and seats there. You can even sort by price.

 

Information and tickets are available on the following websites:
ATG (Ambassador Theatre Group)
London Theatre Direct
TodayTix

 

That being said, you can also get tickets on-site. Here are some options.

You can book directly at the theatre box office:
– Pros: as you would be booking direct, you won’t be paying booking fees. They will also be able to give you all the options they have.
– Cons: They might have sold out or only have standing tickets.

Pro tip: Always ask if they have separate tickets. Sometimes they don’t tell you but they actually have multiple seats available, just not together.

 

You can also book in one of the theatre kiosks in Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus.
– Pros: they can compare the availability for several shows which means they will always find you something!
– Cons: they rarely have “cheap” tickets available and don’t have access to all seats available.

 

We hope you enjoyed this article and that it will help you decide what musical to see in London!

 

Please note that if you want to see a play that is not a musical, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Witness for the Prosecution by Agatha Christie are absolutely amazing!

 

You may also be interested in:

How to get cheap theatre tickets in the UK

Is the ATG theatre card worth it?

Back to the future Musical Review, Manchester

Book of Mormon Musical Review

Harry Potter in London

 

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