Enduring the test of time: the West End’s longest running shows

The general worldwide consensus at the moment is clear to see every time we turn on the news, pick up a paper or scroll through Twitter – things are uncertain. This uncertainty is not limited only to politics and the Topic That Must Not Be Named (clue: it rhymes with Frexit); shows are coming and going on the West End like never before, staying for about as long as it takes Marius to get over Eponine’s death – so, not long at all.

There are a handful of shows however, such as the one referenced above, that are bucking this trend, and continuing to thrive in spite of the trying times and ever changing audiences. What is it about these productions that have cemented them in the edifice of theatre? Read on and find out…

The Mousetrap

As it prepares to enter its landmark 68th year, it’s fair to say that Agatha Christie’s ‘whodunit’ thriller won’t be going anywhere any time soon. As the world’s longest running show, and with over 28,000 performances under its belt, The Mousetrap continues to thrill audiences of every generation with its masterful, edge-of-your-seat plot – the kind that we could only expect from the “Queen of Mystery”.

If you haven’t yet experienced the suspense of this timeless classic, you can get tickets now from just £23.40.

Les Miserables

Boasting over 30 years in the West End, four different venues, three live concerts (all starring some of the finest talents the world has to offer) and a three-time Academy Award®-winning film adaptation starring Wolverine himself, Les Miserables seems to be the gift that keeps on giving. From the infamously heart-wrenching I Dreamed A Dream to the spine-tingling chorus of Do You Hear The People Sing?, Les Miserables tells the story of a French revolution, but it’s its own revolutionary triumphs that deserve to be celebrated for many years to come.

Les Miserables re-opens at the newly renovated Sondheim Theatre this December. Get tickets from £33 now.

Disney’s The Lion King

A musical that is both a modern-day classic and a state-of-the-art multi-sensory experience, The Lion King continues to flaw audiences worldwide and go from strength to strength. Adapted for the stage from the Academy Award®-winning beloved film, this multi Tony and Olivier award-winning musical, having just celebrated a monumental 20 years in the West End, will redefine your expectations of theatre.

Book tickets now for Disney’s multi-award winning international phenomenon.

The Phantom of the Opera

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-breaking musical masterpiece is now celebrating 31 years at the Her Majesty’s Theatre in London. The Phantom of the Opera is gloriously grand in style. The show’s immense plot, scenery and, of course, its music, have drawn over 100 million people worldwide to see it. Powerful narrative and traditional illusion come together in this masterpiece to create one of the most successful theatre shows in history, and one of the longest running that the West End has to offer.

Experience the scintillating tale for yourself, with tickets from £30.

Wicked

Winner of over 100 major awards, including three Tony Awards, two Olivier Awards and ten theatregoer-voted WhatsOnStage Awards, Wicked has now been seen by almost 10 million people in London alone. Boasting a stellar soundtrack and a witty retelling of one of the world’s most famous tales, the re-imagined world of Oz offers nothing but spellbinding theatrical magic.

Witness the magic of the Witches of Oz for yourself, with tickets from just £26.50.

With new shows popping up seemingly every week, from classic adaptations to groundbreaking new productions, it’s hard to imagine what the West End might look like in 20 or even 10 years. Which of these shows would you like to see continue on its legacy? Sound off in the comments below!

3 Things To Know About the New Cast of Les Mis London

Les Mis London just announced a new cast starting on June 12: just in time for you to get in a little revolution this summer!(Though if they’d pushed it back a week earlier, the new cast could have officially stepped in on Barricade Day, just saying….)

Major cast changes include Killian Donnelly as Jean Valjean, Carly Stenson as Fantine, Hayden Tee as Javert, and Karis Jack as Eponine. Steven Meo will step in as Thenardier, Jacqueline Tate as Madame Thenardier, and Hyoie O’Grady as Enjolras. Paul Wilkins and Charlotte Kennedy will continue in their current roles as Marius and Cosette, respectively.

Here are 3 things to know about the new cast of Les Misérables London:

1. Killian Donnelly has already played half the characters in the show – including in the film
So transitioning to the role of Jean Valjean should be fairly smooth. The Irish-born actor first joined the cast of Les Misérables in 2008 as swing. Shortly after joining the company, he understudied several roles, including Javert, Enjolras, and Jean Valjean (a role he performed on several occasions). His performances as an understudy must have impressed someone, because he officially took on the role of Enjolras shortly thereafter, and continued in that role from 2009 to 2011. But the buck doesn’t stop there. Donnelly also played Courfeyrac in the 25th Anniversary Concert of Les Misérables at the O2, and Combeferre in the 2012 film adaptation.It’s been a few years since Donnelly has been involved in Les Mis, though. He’s currently playing the role of Charlie Price in Kinky Boots on Broadway – a role that got him nominated for an Olivier Award.

2. Carley Stenson once received a nomination for Best Exit (not to be mistaken for Brexit)

From 2000 to 2010, Stenson played Steph Cunningham in Hollyoaks, a popular soap opera about a group of college kids. Stenson’s character eventually died in a burning building after struggling with cervical cancer (apparently she decided to go out with a bang, since she was dying anyway). Stenson’s exit from the show created quite a stir and even brought her a nomination for Best Exit. That seems particularly relevant to her new role as Fantine – a character who has possibly one of the most moving exits in theater history. But Stenson isn’t all doom and gloom: she’s also starred in West End productions of Legally Blonde, Shrek the Musical, and Spamalot.

3. Hayden Tee has played Javert in three different countries – UK will be the fourthThe New Zealander has played Javert in Australia, New York, and Dubai. He first performed the role in the 25th Anniversary production of Les Misérables in Australia. Before the Australian run began in 2015, though, Tee attended a Broadway production of Les Misérables and hid a note to himself in one of the chairs inside the theater. The note read, “Dear Hayden, Congratulations on your Broadway Debut as Javert, March 2016.” It was a self-fulfilling prophecy: Tee debuted as Javert on Broadway in January 2016 and won several awards for his performance. Anyone who’s tried reading Les Misérables will also appreciate the fact that Tee has read Hugo’s 1400-page novel three times. I’d give him an award just for that.

Bonus:
Here’s our light-hearted look at this most serious-sounding of musicals

Top 10 Musical Theatre Tearjerkers: As voted by you!

When we asked you to vote for Theatre’s greatest tearjerkers we were stunned by the results! Shows we expected to make the top ten didn’t get a look in while Musicals which hadn’t been in the West End in years gave the big names a close run for the top spot. So which shows made your top ten? Grab a box of tissues and see if your favourite made the list:

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An interview with Gypsy’s Gemma Sutton

This week we met the enchanting Gemma Sutton who has been wowing audiences in hit West End show Gyspy as Rose’s daughter June and now takes over from Lara Pulver in the role of Louise, a character who undergoes a chrysalis-like transformation to become the complex and eponymous Gypsy.

There’s still time to catch Chichester Festival Theatre’s jaw-dropping West End transfer of possibly the greatest of all American Musical, Gypsy. The show is booking until 28th November at the Savoy Theatre and features music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Arthur Laurents.

Hi Gemma. You’ve been playing June since Gypsy started – when did you take over the role of Louise?

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Meet West End Wilma: The First Lady of Theatreland

We all love a good gossip, and few women have their finger more firmly on the pulse of Theatreland than top-blogger and all-round glamourpuss West End Wilma. So what of the lady behind the teapot? Join us for an exclusive peek through Wilma’s stage door!

Hi Wilma. It’s a tremendous honour to meet you – and you’re looking fabulous by the way! You’re well known for your love of tea and interviewing the great and the good of West End Theatre, but what we really want to know is….

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