I think I have made the confession before on here. I love theatre … and in particular musical theatre. Yes I am sure that some of you are rolling your eyes but I love Musical theatre. And so for me one of my favourite parts of London is the West End. Alongside Broadway, West End theatre represents the highest quality commercial theatre in the world. There are around 40 theatres in London’s “Theatreland.” Theatre performances in the West End tend to be musicals, classic plays and comedies. For someone that loves theatre and especially Musical Theatre … it is just heaven.
Theatre and the West End
The theatre in London has a long history with the earliest theatre being recorded in operation from 1576 (called ‘the Theatre’). During the 19th Century The West End theatre district became established with the opening of many small theatres and halls, including the Adelphi in The Strand on 17 November 1806. South of the River Thames, the Old Vic opened on 11 May 1818. The expansion of the West End theatre district gained pace with the Theatres Act 1843. From 1843 to about World War One there was a theatre building boom during which theatres such as he Criterion Theatre (21 March 1874), Savoy Theatre ( 10 October 1881 specifically to showcase the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan) and the Comedy Theatre (15 October 1881) open their doors.
Not all just in the West End … Off West End Theatres
Beyond the West End are the Royal National Theatre and Old Vic, in Southwark; and the Barbican Theatre, in the City of London. London also has many smaller theatres, both around the West End and its periphery. I know I am alittle naughty but I usually consider these theatres and their many fine works when I think about the West End as well.
Length of Show Runs
The length of West End shows depend on the economics … therefore ticket sales. The longest-running musical in West End history is Les Misérables. It overtook Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats, which closed in 2002 after running for 8,949 performances and 21 years, as the longest-running West End musical of all time on 8 October 2006. Other long-runners include Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera and Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers which have also subsequently overtaken Cats. However the non-musical Agatha Christie play The Mousetrap is the longest-running show in the world, and has been showing since 1952.
What’s to see and do at West End?
Lots of things … But here is a some short highlights
So for me … if I could go ove the summer and only see one musical … I would probably go and see … Sweeney Todd. It looks like it is going to be a awesome production with stars including Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton. Hmm but still it is a hard one to call.
For more information including how to get there, current and forecoming shows to LondonTheatre.Co.UK.