Weekly Top Picks

All prices and offer details are correct at time of writing. Subject to change thereafter.

Day 8913 in the month of January and it still feels like February is a lifetime away. Luckily for you, we’ve rounded up a host of fantastic shows that will be a great ailment to banish those pesky January blues without breaking the bank.

Show of the week

Based on the Hollywood Blockbuster starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, this strictly limited run of The Wedding Singer sees multi-talented Strictly Come Dancing star Kevin Clifton (Dirty Dancing, Rock of Ages) take on the role of Robbie Hart. Tickets start from just £16.50 – don’t miss out!

Tickets for £20 or less

A Taste of Honey

Shelagh Delaney’s ground-breaking British classic A Taste of Honey returns to the West End for the first time in 60 years. Jodie Prenger leads the cast as Helen in an exciting staging, featuring original compositions performed live by an on stage three-piece band and sung by the cast. Save over 50% on selected tickets for a sweet, cheap, theatre night treat to warm your cold January nights. Offer ends 29th Feb 2020.

Witness For The Prosecution

This production of Agatha Christie’s thrilling classic immerses the audience in a unique courtroom setting, complete with drama and intensity to keep you enthralled. With tickets from just £13.80, don’t miss out on this gripping story of justice, passion, and betrayal.

The Mousetrap

The Mousetrap has become the longest running show of any kind in the world by keeping audiences on the edge of their seat in this masterful whodunit by the “Queen of Mystery”. Tickets start from just £19.52 – book now and pay no booking fees on selected tickets! Offer ends 31st Jan 2020.

The Comedy About A Bank Robbery

From the comedy masterminds behind five-star hit The Play That Goes Wrong (Olivier Award for Best New Comedy), The Comedy About A Bank Robbery is fast-paced and riotously hilarious, masterfully uniting screw-ball comedy with real theatrical invention, and is guaranteed to have you rolling in the aisles. With tickets from just £11.80, book now for a comedy treat to brighten any January night.

Something different

Ideal Home Show

The Ideal Home Show sponsored by NatWest will offer everything you need to make your house a home to be proud of. Whether you have a big home project, or just want to add those finishing touches, you’ll discover fresh ideas at the UK’s biggest home event. Tickets are just £9.50 – don’t miss out!

Meal deals

It’s the return of one of the most classic combinations known to man – dinner and a show. Buy selected theatre tickets and warm your winter night with a delicious 2 or 3 course meal at your choice of some of London’s most popular restaurants, our treat! Browse our fantastic selection of shows and restaurants to create your ideal evening out.

Weekly Top Picks

All prices and offer details are correct at time of writing. Subject to change thereafter.

With a host of opening nights, special offers and upcoming shows to choose from, we’ve rounded up this week’s hottest tickets – you won’t want to miss them!

Show of the week

Cirque du Soleil returns to London’s Royal Albert Hall with the European Premiere of LUZIA, a waking dream of Mexico. The thrilling feats displayed by the stunningly talented cast, which have garnered a number of four-star reviews, will have you wondering how such acts are humanly possible! Playing until 1st March only, don’t miss out on the “effortless, heart-stopping skill” (The Guardian) displayed – book your tickets now.

Critics’ Choice

Frank Skinner: Showbiz

Frank Skinner: Showbiz

Following a sold out 2019 national tour, comedy legend Frank Skinner’s critically acclaimed stand-up show Showbiz kicked off a strictly limited five week run in the West End this week. With critics calling the comic’s performance a “a masterclass in owning the room” (The Arts Desk), and tickets priced at just £31.80, this is the perfect show to beat the January Blues.

Magic Goes Wrong

Magic Goes Wrong

Magic Goes Wrong is the latest in Mischief Theatre’s already impressive line-up (which includes The Play That Goes Wrong and The Comedy About A Bank Robbery) and, given the four and five-star reviews that this latest instalment has racked up, it’s safe to say that they’ve knocked it out of the park again! Now booking until June, with further tickets going on sale very soon, book now from just £25 to see the show that will have you  “laughing into next week” (The Sun, ★★★★★)

Closing Soon

The Girl From The North Country

The Girl From The North Country
As close as mortals come to heaven on Earth.” – The New York Times

The critically acclaimed, double Olivier Award-winning Old Vic production of Girl From The North Country, which reimagines the music of Bob Dylan as roof-raising ensemble pieces and soul-stirring solos, returned to London in December for a strictly limited run. With just 3 weeks of performances left, and no booking fees on selected tickets, don’t miss out on the “show that transports the soul.” (The Times)

Top Musicals

Come From Away

Come From Away are welcoming 10 new cast members to the Rock from 10 February! Winner of 4 Olivier Awards, and playing to nightly standing ovations, this joyous musical shares the incredible real-life story of the 7,000 air passengers from all over the world that became grounded in Canada during the wake of 9/11. Book tickets from just £18.75 and prepare to become an honorary Islander for life!

The Prince of Egypt

The Prince of Egypt

Following the incredible cast performance on ITV’s Dancing on Ice, and opening at the Dominion Theatre in just under a month, The Prince of Egypt is set to be the West End’s latest musical triumph! Based on the classic animated film, journey through the wonders of Ancient Egypt as two young men, raised together as brothers find themselves suddenly divided by a secret past. Get tickets from just £24.40.

Something different

ABBA Super Trouper’s Exhibition

ABBA Super Trouper's Exhibition

ABBA: Super Troupers The Exhibition is the brand new can’t-miss, 14,000 square foot immersive experience that invites you inside the iconic band’s personal and creative journey as it ‘skilfully weaves the story of their meteoric rise’ (The Mirror) to global superstardom. For a limited time only, save over 30% on tickets to this ‘informative and fun’ (The Telegraph) exhibition. Offer ends 31st Jan 2020.

Weekly top picks

All prices and offer details are correct at time of writing. Subject to change thereafter.

From the hottest tickets in town to shows ending soon, read on for a summary of the shows that we think you should be seeing this week!

Show of the week

Receiving standing ovations night after night, Waitress is “the real deal” (Independent) musical comedy “made from the finest ingredients” (Time Out). Book before 24th Jan and get a free seat upgrade, with tickets from just £19.50 and great stall seats for £49.50!

Hot tickets

Mary Poppins

Opening to five-star reviews, Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s multi award-winning musical returned to its original West End home and audiences are loving it! Don’t miss out on the smash-hit phenomenon – book tickets from just £17.25.

Leopoldstadt

With just two weeks to go until Tom Stoppard’s latest masterpiece arrives in London, Leopoldstadt, directed by Patrick Marber, is pegged to be a passionate drama of love, family and endurance. It is Stoppard’s most humane and heart-breaking play. Book tickets now from £25.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

With a brand new cast, led by Noah Thomas and Bianca Del Rio (for a limited season), Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is the award-winning hit musical that everybody is STILL talking about. Book now to see the brand new 2020 cast, with tickets from just £25.

Tickets under £30

Mamma Mia!

Set on an exotic Greek island and featuring a host of ABBA classics, what could be better? Mamma Mia! is the classic musical that has been seen by millions of people worldwide – see it for yourself with a host of tickets available for just £30.

The Tiger Who Came To Tea

Based on Britain’s best-loved picture book by Judith Kerr, the Olivier Award nominated smash hit show The Tiger Who Came to Tea is a family favourite. With just one week left of this strictly limited run, book final tickets for as little as £10 and save 52%.

Kunene and the King

With plenty of tickets from just £25, there’s no reason to miss out on John Kani’s highly acclaimed play, marking the 25th anniversary of the end of apartheid with a strictly limited London run, following its premiere in Stratford-upon-Avon and a sold-out run in Cape Town. Book now

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!

Survive the heatwave with a trip to the theatre

It’s official, London is sweltering. With the sun set to scorch for at least the next couple of weeks, it can be hard to picture yourself doing anything other than slapping on the suncream and eating all the ice lollies you can get your hands on. If, like us, you’d still prefer to be out and about in the city, we’ve compiled a handy list of the top shows that you can go and enjoy in the comfort of an air conditioned theatre.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

A new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s multi-award winning musical has landed in the London Palladium for a strictly limited summer run. No need to worry about feeling the Egyptian heat – the London Palladium has air conditioning to keep you cooler than a dip in the Nile. Book tickets now from £24.

The Comedy About A Bank Robbery

Fast-paced and riotously hilarious, The Comedy About A Bank Robbery masterfully unites screw-ball comedy with real theatrical invention, and is guaranteed to have you rolling in the aisles. With air conditioning in the Criterion, it’ll be tears of laughter wetting your face, not sweat! Book tickets from just £11.80.

Only Fools and Horses

The record-breaking and top-rated television series Only Fools and Horses is now also a smash-hit, five star West End musical! Join Del Boy, Rodney and Grandad in this brilliant adaptation of the classic sitcom and cool off with the coolest guys that Peckham has to offer. Lovely Jubbly! Book tickets from just £18 this summer.

Night of the Iguana

Tennessee Williams’s last great play comes to the West End for a limited run starring Clive Owen, Lia Williams, Anna Gunn and Julian Glover. Thrown together for one eventful night at a remote coastal Mexican hotel, the only rise in temperature in the Noël Coward Theatre will be from the actors’ chemistry. Book tickets now from £21.

MAMMA MIA!

Set in the sunny climates of the Mediterranean, it would be easy with the heatwave to forget that we’re in London at all! Luckily, the Novello Theatre is equipped to keep you cool while you channel your inner dancing queen with this classic jukebox musical. Book tickets for this West End classic from just £18.

All prices correct at time of writing.

Jason Donovan to star in Joseph this Summer

After starring as Joseph in the iconic 1991 original production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic, Jason will return to the show as the Pharaoh. Tickets are on sale from £24 – book now.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will play a strictly limited 11-week season from Thursday 27 June until Sunday 8 September.

Jason joins Sheridan Smith, with the double Olivier Award winning actress recently announced as The Narrator. Casting for the role of Joseph is to be announced soon.

Jason made his defining stage performance as the title character of Joseph in the 1990s, also at the London Palladium, in a sold-out 18-month run which produced a No.1 single and best-selling soundtrack album. It remains one of the most successful revivals of all time. Jason now returns to the show as Pharaoh, who rocks ‘Song of the King’ in the iconic musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, soon to be re-imagined in this brand new production.

You never know the measure of a moment until it becomes a memory, and what a moment that was for me. Joseph was a ground breaker in 1991, and what a blast it will be to be back on the prestigious Palladium stage and be part of it all again with a brand new cast in this re-imagined 2019 production. I’m looking forward to breathing new life into Pharaoh and I’m so relieved he doesn’t wear a loin cloth!

– Jason Donovan

Jason became an international star with the role of Scott Robinson in Neighbours. The series went on to become one of the highest-rating shows in the UK, which led to Jason’s association and huge success with acclaimed producers, Stock, Aitken and Waterman. His debut album Ten Good Reasons was the biggest selling album of 1989, with career sales of 13 million albums and 4 UK No.1 singles.

Following his Olivier-nominated portrayal of Joseph, he has gone on to star in The Rocky Horror ShowChitty Chitty Bang BangPriscillaAnnie Get Your GunThe Sound of MusicThe King’s Speechand Million Dollar Quartet. On television he has featured in I’m A Celebrityand Strictly Come DancingWho Do You Think You AreITV’s Superstarand Piers Morgan’s Life Stories. Jason also appeared in ITV’s drama Echo Beachand he continues to play sell-out tours across the country.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will be directed by Laurence Connor (School of Rock, Miss Saigon).

Book tickets from just £24.

Extension announced for Everybody’s Talking About Jamie!

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, the award-winning feel good musical sensation, announced on Friday the opening of a new booking period until Saturday 25 January 2020. Dazzling audiences at London’s Apollo Theatre since November 2017 the musical is currently in its second year in the West End.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie won Best Original Cast Recording at the 2019 WhatsOnStage Awards on Sunday 3rd March, adding to its 3 WhatsOnStage Awards, which included Best New Musical in 2018. If you haven’t already bought tickets to this smash-hit sensation, you can grab them here.

“I’m so thrilled to be strutting into 2020 as Jamie New. I love seeing the joy it brings to audience members after every show. It fills my heart and hopefully theirs too!”

Layton Williams, currently playing Jamie New

“We are delighted that Layton Williams is having such a ball playing Jamie that he will continue leading the cast into 2020 and will celebrate our second birthday in November 2019. Thank you to our fantastic audiences and critics for continuing to talk about Jamie and keeping us in the West End alongside someof the world’s favourite musicals.”

Nica Burns, Producer

Happy International Women’s Day!

March 8th marks 2019’s International Women’s Day and we are certainly feeling the empowerment here at From The Box Office. This year we’ve teamed up with Tina – The Tina Turner Musical and Wicked to talk to the cast members and production teams about the importance of the day itself and the progress of women in theatre. Check out our exclusive quickfire interviews below!

The cast and production team of TINA talk about women’s roles in theatre

Click to learn more about the smash-hit musical that has taken the West End by storm!

The witches of Wicked share their views on International Women’s Day

Click to learn more about the incredible West End spectacular, which is now celebrating its 13th year!

Valentine’s Day Gift inspiration

It’s that time of year again: love is in the air and you’re searching high and low for the perfect Valentine’s date night. Lucky for you, From The Box Office has all rounded up all the romance that the West End has to offer. Read on for the best shows to see this Valentine’s Day…

The Great Gatsby

It’s one of the most famous love stories ever written, and now this unique immersive theatre experience invites you to be part of the romance and excitement of the roaring jazz age. Slip on your dancing shoes and watch the story unfold around you – the party is in full swing! Book now to save up to 53% – tickets from just £15 (ends 6th Feb).

Cirque Du Soleil’s presents Totem

For a truly dazzling date night, it doesn’t get much better than Cirque Du Soleil! Totem is a fantastic combination of impressive acrobatics and mind-blowing displays of human ability. Enjoy a night of wonder and romance that will leave a lasting impression – book you tickets for Totem now to save up to % (ends 11th Feb).

Phantom of the Opera

One of the West End’s most notorious musicals, now celebrating over 30 years at Her Majesty’s Theatre! Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic and compelling tale of The Phantom and his only companion and love, Christiane Daae, has romance enough for any Valentine’s date night. Book tickets now from £28.99, or get tickets to this infamous show with a free meal here.

Company

Weaving together various different tales of love, Company explores what love is and what it can mean to us. This gender-reversed remake, which stars Rosalie Craig and Patti LuPone, is a musical comedy about life, love, and marriage, and features some of Stephen Sondheim’s most iconic songs, a perfect show for an entertaining date night! Book tickets now with no fees (ends 8th February).

Waitress

What could be more exciting than seeing a brand new West End show for Valentine’s Day? “​Waitress ​is a little slice of heaven!” says Entertainment Weekly, and is “sweet, sassy and passionate,” according to New York Magazine. Don’t miss this uplifting and hilarious musical! Book tickets now from £47.50 for a Valentine’s Date Night that’s sweet as pie.

Showstopper! The Musical

For a truly unique date night experience, it doesn’t get better than Showstopper! The Improvised Musical! You’ll be the first and last audience members to experience the show as you see it, because the entire performance will be thought of before your very eyes, and with your ideas forming the story. Book now for the most original Valentine’s date the West End has to offer!

Motown The Musical

Toe-tap your way to the perfect, fun-filled Valentine’s Day with a trip to see the catchiest musical. Filled to the brim with all of your favourite classic romantic Motown hits, including ‘My Girl’ and ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’, a trip to see Motown is guaranteed to leave you feeling the love. Book tickets now from £22.50, or book with a free meal for the perfect date night package.

Disney’s Aladdin

Take a romantic magic carpet ride to a whole new world with your loved one this Valentine’s Day – it doesn’t get more magical than Disney’s Aladdin! From award-winning Disney movie to smash hit musical comedy, Aladdin is an exuberant West End spectacular, featuring all the unforgettable songs from the much-loved Disney film, as well as some brand new musical numbers for you to fall in love with. Book now from just £27.50.

If these sensational shows aren’t quite what you’re looking for this Valentine’s Day, why not take a browse of our top picks?

Beat the January Blues with our top feel-good shows!

Decorations are down, the excitement of Christmas and New Year is over and it feels like it should at least be April by now… January is a drag! Thank goodness we’ve got a West End filled to the brim with fantastic shows to get us through the cold, long nights and get us feeling pumped again…

For Musical Lovers
Tap your toes, click your fingers, clap your hands and rejoice in the feel-good comfort of London’s finest musicals. From Olivier award-winners to brand new productions, there’s a musical for every taste.

Winner of the Olivier Award for Best New Musical and with performances that’ll take your breath away, Caroline, Or Change is an imaginative and moving story of strength, revolution and hope. With a “voice full of raw soul that shreds the heart, and sets it soaring”, book now and save up to 57% on selected tickets!

Company

Experience Company, the legendary Broadway musical, as never before. Winner of two Evening Standard Awards 2018, this riotous reimagining of Stephen Sondheim’s classic features all of the classic Broadway hits, with a new twist. Don’t miss out on the hilarious adaptation, book tickets now!

Six

DIVORCED. BEHEADED. LIVE IN CONCERT! From Tudor queens to pop princesses, the six wives of Henry VIII finally take the mic to tell their tale, remixing five hundred years of her-storical and hilarious heartbreak. Book tickets now from just £21.60.

Showstopper! The Musical

★★★★★ ‘If this is what improv can do, you wonder why anyone bothers writing anything down’ -The Times

 Do you want to be the first, and last, to see a brand-new musical? The Showstoppers transform audience suggestions into all-singing, all-dancing productions with hilarious results. Come watch an entirely different show every single night! Book tickets now from just £18.

For a unique theatre experience…

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby at the Gatsby Drugstore is now booking through the end of the year due to overwhelming demand! Step into a heart-racing immersive adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald’s seminal jazz-age novel which puts you in the heart of the action. Slip on your dancing shoes and watch the story unfold around you. Book tickets for this unique theatrical performance here.

Plays
If you prefer to have your heart strings pulled or your tummy aching with laughter, we’ve still got you covered with the best plays to see this January!

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

The smash-hit National Theatre production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has returned to London for a strictly limited season, following an acclaimed UK and International tour. Winner of 7 Olivier Awards and 5 Tony Awards® including ‘Best Play’, this is a perfect heart-warming tale to help you shake off the cold of January. Even better, you can book tickets now with no fees!

The Wider Earth

The Wider Earth

Join a 22-year-old Charles Darwin on HMS Beagle’s daring voyage to the far side of the world, and discover the gripping story behind one of the most important discoveries in history. A perfect theatre trip for families this January, book tickets now from £23.50.

Don Quixote


The Royal Shakespeare Company’s ‘joyous’ (Guardian) production of this legendary comic novel is told by a company of 20 actors accompanied by a band of live musicians. Featuring riotous performances by Rufus Hound and David Threlfall, don’t miss out on this hilarious adaptation. Book now and save up to 56% on selected tickets.

The Comedy About A Bank Robbery

From the comedy masterminds behind five-star hits The Play That Goes Wrong (Olivier Award for Best New Comedy) and Peter Pan Goes Wrong, The Comedy About A Bank Robbery is fast-paced and riotously hilarious, masterfully uniting screw-ball comedy with real theatrical invention, and is guaranteed to have you rolling in the aisles. Book now from just £11.80.

Celebs on stage in 2019

As if the bright lights and dazzling shows of the West End aren’t enough to get us running to London’s illustrious theatres, the chance of seeing our favourite celebrities certainly gives us all the more reason to snap up tickets. Take a scroll through the list below to see the stars we’re most excited to see in 2019…

Pinter At The Pinter
After what has so far been a star-studded, critically acclaimed season, there’s still plenty of excitement and celebrity appearances in store in Pinter At The Pinter. Don’t miss out on the likes of Martin Freeman, Danny Dyer, Gary Kemp and Rupert Graves in the final shows of the season, book tickets now.

Betrayal
The final of the Pinter season plays is set to star Hollywood charmer and Golden Globe winner Tom Hiddleston. The Night Manager and Avengers star will be playing the lead role in Harold Pinter’s Betrayal for a strictly limited 12 week season from March 8th, book tickets here now.

Waitress
Katharine McPhee (American Idol, Waitress on Broadway, Smash) joins the WAITRESS London cast to play Jenna, a waitress and expert pie-maker who dreams of a way out of her small town and rocky marriage. Pouring her heart into her pies, she crafts desserts that mirror her topsy-turvy life. Opening in February, book tickets now.

Katherine McPhee in Waitress

COMPANY
Starring Rosalie Craig, Patti Lupone & Mel Giedroyc, experience Company, the legendary Broadway musical, as never before. Winner of two Evening Standard Awards 2018, don’t miss out on the limited run at the Gielgud Theatre. Book tickets now from £13.50 – ends March 30th.

Man of La Mancha
The award winning musical Man of La Mancha returns to London, starring Kelsey Grammer and Danielle de Niese. Featuring the iconic song ‘Dream the Impossible Dream’, Man of La Mancha is inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’s masterpiece. Tickets start from just £18, book now.

True West
Kit Harington (Game of Thrones, Doctor Faustus) and Johnny Flynn (Beast, Genius) star as warring brothers Austin and Lee in the West End Premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winner Sam Shepard’s ferociously funny, modern classic, True West. Book now and save up to 45% on tickets – ends 23rd February!

Dolly Parton Presents: 9 to 5
9 to 5 is about to get down to business – with a strictly limited season at the West End’s Savoy Theatre. Starring Louise Redknapp, Amber Davies, Natalie McQueen and Brian Conley, the smash-hit musical features a book by the iconic movie’s original screenwriter. Book tickets now from £24.

Home, I’m Darling
Katherine Parkinson (The IT Crowd, Humans) reprises her acclaimed role as Judy, in Laura Wade’s fizzing comedy about one woman’s quest to be the perfect 1950’s housewife. How happily married are the happily married? You can find out from January 26th, book tickets now.

The Lehman Trilogy
Critically-acclaimed director Sam Mendes (Skyfall, King Lear) returned to the National Theatre to direct Ben Power’s English version of Stefano Massini’s vast and poetic play, which was a hit across Europe, with Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Ben Miles playing the Lehman Brothers, their sons and their grandsons. The West End transfer opens in May and you can book tickets now from just £21.60.


Tom Hiddleston to return to the West End!

Get ready to celebrate #Hiddlestoners, Tom Hiddleston is set to return to the London stage following his acclaimed performance in Hamlet, directed by Kenneth Branagh, and his Evening Standard Award-winning performance in Coriolanus at the Donmar Warehouse in 2014.

Forty years to the day of the first ever performance of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal on 15 November 1978, The Jamie Lloyd Company announced that Golden Globe, Olivier and Evening Standard Award winner Tom Hiddleston will play Robert in Jamie Lloyd’s new production at the Harold Pinter Theatre from 5 March 2019 for a strictly limited season ending on 1 June. Further casting to be announced.

Betrayal is a masterpiece. Jamie Lloyd’s Pinter at the Pinterseason is terrific and I am so pleased that he’s asked me to be part of it.” – Tom Hiddleston 

With poetic precision, rich humour and an extraordinary emotional force, Betrayal charts a compelling seven-year romance, thrillingly captured in reverse chronological order. The complexities of the human heart are explored in this, “the greatest, and the most moving, of all Pinter’s plays” (The Daily Telegraph). Betrayal was first produced by the National Theatre in 1978. The original cast featured Pinter at the Pinter company members Penelope Wilton and Michael Gambon.

Pinter at the Pinter is the unprecedented season of Harold Pinter’s work, marking ten years since the Nobel Prize winner’s death. The season celebrates the most important playwright of the 20th century in the theatre that bears his name. Tickets for the final show of the critically-acclaimed season will go on sale on 30th November. You can book tickets now for the rest of the season, which stars Lee Evans, Martin Freeman, Danny Dyer and Gary Kemp, to name just a few.

There will be a pre-sale for theatre-goers that have already purchased tickets for the Pinter At The Pinter season on November 29th – you can still book tickets and access this pre-sale here! You can also click here to sign up and be the first to hear when tickets for Betrayal go on general sale.

 

The Wider Earth: exclusive interview with David Morton

It’s the story that shaped not only a young man’s life, but the understanding of life as we now know it. Now, Charles Darwin’s inspiring journey will be put on stage for all to see in the first show of its kind at the Natural History Museum. We asked playwright David Morton for all of the exciting details, ahead of the production’s historic opening on Tuesday 2nd October…

The Wider Earth tells the story of Darwin’s voyage on HMS Beagle. How did that voyage affect the rest of his life and work?
On 25 October 1831, a 22-year-old Charles Darwin boarded a ship preparing for a voyage around the world. What he saw on the five-year voyage that followed led him to think deeply about the natural world, and to question received opinion about its origins. He also collected specimens – thousands of them – and these specimens, studied in the field and on his return to England, provided vital evidence in support of his ideas, especially on the theory of evolution.

Since this play is based on a real, historical voyage, how did you find the balance between giving a historically true account and telling a good story?
To strike the balance we’ve tried to include nothing in the story that doesn’t at least have some reference to actual events. There are definitely some leaps of imagination to heighten the drama but we’ve tried to keep true to the memories of the characters and the contributions they all made.

Was there any part of the writing or development process that you found especially challenging?
The most challenging part was trying to work out which parts of the history to use. The records of the voyage are so rich with information that it was hard not to include everything.

What do you think will surprise audiences most about the Darwin you’re presenting versus the Darwin they think they know?
In the show we try and capture Darwin’s energy, his drive, and his excitement. We wanted to show the Darwin behind the long grey beard, and paint a portrait of Charles as the young man.

In your opinion, what do puppets add to the story (or to theatre in general)?
The process of bringing a puppet to life on stage takes an incredible degree of commitment and discipline. Unlike an actor who spends a rehearsal period developing a character, a puppet has to first learn how to be alive before we can even start to wonder as to what its character might be. Ultimately, the process isn’t complete until the imagination of an audience turns the movement cues that we give into the illusion of life. I think that puppets deepen the possibilities of storytelling in theatre, and can provoke a real sense of wonder in an audience.

Of the 30 puppets featured in this production, do you have a favourite?
The Galapagos tortoise! And the flightless cormorant.

the-wider-earth-triplet-three-NUlH

Since it’s a bit unconventional to stage a play in the Museum, have there been any logistical challenges?
Converting the Jerwood Gallery into a theatre for the first time has been a challenge, but the outcome is absolutely worth it!

What has it been like working with the Museum’s scientists?
Working with Professor Adrian Lister has been an absolute honour. To receive input into the story from someone who has lived and breathed everything Darwinian for so long has allowed the script to flourish. Adrian has an amazing sense of Charles as a person, and has been just as excited as us about making the story fresh, and bringing the voyage to life.

There are so many incredible and unique aspects to this production: its staging in the Natural History Museum, its 30 hand-made puppets, its blending of animations and live performance. What are you most excited to share with audiences?
The experience of the whole thing. I think what’s so special about this work is the integration of the elements. There’s so much to look at, and the world of the play is so rich. Also the amazing cast, their dedication to the characters and the story has been just awe inspiring and I’m so grateful to the whole team.

If you’re as excited as we are for this groundbreaking new production you can book tickets now! Watch the trailer below:

 

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Peaky Blinders star Paul Anderson makes his West End debut in Tartuffe

Paul Anderson and Audrey Fleurot will star in the West End’s first ever dual language production: a new adaptation of Moliere’s Tartuffe. Adaptor Christopher Hampton and director Gerald Garutti have reimagined this 1600s French classic as a darkly comic story of human frailties set in present-day L.A.

When French film tycoon Orgon relocates to Tinsel town with his family, he has his heart set on becoming Hollywood royalty. And with a palatial Beverly Hills mansion and new studio to his name, he seems well on his way to establishing an infallible empire. But Orgon soon falls under the seductive spell of a radical American evangelist named Tartuffe. Completely hoodwinked, Orgon risks losing his fortune and family to Tartuffe’s sly machinations. The so-called evangelist plans to steal Orgon’s vast wealth, drive away his son, seduce his wife, and marry his daughter. Will Orgon come to his senses before it’s too late?

In 1664, Tartuffe, or The Imposter was regarded as one of Moliere’s best plays. Today, it’s a trenchant mockery of human frailties set against the backdrop of Donald Trump’s America. Both then and now, it’s a humorous tale with an undercurrent that’s frighteningly relevant.

The production finds a fitting home at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, which was nicknamed “The New French Theatre” after its opening in 1720. To reflect its swiftly unfolding plot, the play will alternate between English with French surtitles and French with English surtitles.

In the title role of the radical evangelist is Paul Anderson, known for his star turn in the hit drama Peaky Blinders, as well as leading roles in The Revenant, In the Heart of the Sea, and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

Playing Orgon’s wily, strong-willed wife Elmire is French star Audrey Fleurot. Fleurot’s stage and screen roles include playing The Lady of the Lake in Kaamelott, Joséphine Karlsson in Spiral (BAFTA nominated), Hortense Larcher in Un village francais, and Magalie in international hit The Intouchables. She also played herself in Netflix’s Call My Agent! / Dix pour cent!

Additional casting has not yet been announced.

Adapting Moliere’s classic comedy is Academy, BAFTA, and Olivier Award-winning writer and director Christopher Hampton, whose vast screenplay credits include Dangerous Liaisons (Oscar winner), and Atonement. For the stage, Hampton has worked on an Olivier Award-winning adaptation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Sunset Boulevard, and several original plays including Appomatox and The Talking Cure.

Director Gerald Garutti is well-poised at the helm of this dual-language production: he’s directed an English performance of Dangerous Liaisons at the Royal Shakespeare Company and is the former dramaturg of the French National Theatre (Théâtre National Populaire, 2006-11). His many other productions include Notes from the Underground, The Fall Of The House of Usher, and the sell-out French production Brief Praise of Night.

Tartuffe premieres for a limited ten-week engagement at the Theatre Royal Haymarket starting Friday 25th May 2018. (Press Night is Tuesday 29th May.)

Find tickets from £18.

CREATIVES

Directed by Gerald Garutti
Adapted by Christopher Hampton
Composed by Laurent Petitgand
Designed by Tim Goodchild
Lighting design by Paul Anderson
Sound design by David Gregory

ADDRESS

Theatre Royal Haymarket
18 Suffolk Street
London
SW1Y 4HT

SEASON DATES

Friday 25 May – Saturday 28 July 2018

PRESS NIGHT

Tuesday 29 May at 7.00pm

12 Days of Christmas: London Theatre Style

2017 was a great year for London theatre, and there were certainly more than just 12 things we loved about it. But it’s Christmastime… which means we feel obliged to put a holiday spin on everything. Inspired by “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, here are 12 gifts given to the London theatre world in 2017:

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

12,000 performances of The Phantom of the Opera in London

Production still from Phantom of the Opera London
Ben Lewis and Kelly Mathieson. Photo by Johan Persson.

That’s right: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical The Phantom of the Opera has now played over 12,000 performances at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London. In fact, it’s the second longest running musical in the West End.

On the 11th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

11 years of Wicked in London

The popular musical about the witches of Oz opened in London in September 2006. That means it’s now been defying gravity for a little over 11 years.

On the 10th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

£10 lottery tickets to Hamilton

But seriously, if your true love did get you tickets to Hamilton, marry him or her immediately. The Tony-winning musical from Lin-Manuel Miranda transferred to the West End earlier this month, but tickets are hard to come by. If you’re feeling lucky, try entering the £10 ticket lottery.

On the 9th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

9 Olivier Awards

Production still from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child London
Photo by Manuel Harlan

That’s what Harry Potter and the Cursed Child got for an early Christmas present this year. In racking up all those Tony wins, the play broke a record. Magic? Quite possibly.

On the 8th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

8 theatres owned by Sir Cameron Mackintosh

This year, Delfont Mackintosh Theatres (owned by Sir Cameron Mackintosh) finished restoring the Victoria Palace Theatre just in time for Hamilton. Sir Cameron Mackintosh, producer of shows like Les Misérables and Phantom of the Opera, owns a total of eight theatres in London: Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, Novello, Gielgud, Queen’s, Noël Coward, Wyndham’s, and the Victoria Palace.

On the 7th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

7½ hours of Angels in America

That’s the runtime for the National Theatre’s production of Tony Kushner’s landmark play. With a great cast including Andrew Garfield (who won Best Actor at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards for his performance), no one seems to mind the incredible length of this production.

On the 6th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

6 autism-friendly performances

We counted at least six theatre performances this year that catered to autistic audiences – including plays in both London and New York. Here’s to even more autism friendly performances in 2018.

On the 5th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

5-star reviews

The Ferryman banner

That’s what Jez Butterworth’s new play The Ferryman got this year – in addition to a host of awards and a great deal of hype – which according to The Evening Standard is fully justified. The Ferryman received five-star reviews from The Independent, The Stage, The Guardian, The Evening Standard, The Financial Times, and others.

On the 4th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

4 ghosts

Production still from A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic
The Old Vic’s production of A Christmas Carol by Jack Thorne

You’re very likely to see four ghosts if you attend The Old Vic’s new production of A Christmas Carol this holiday season. This version of the Dickens classic, which looks gorgeous, stars Rhys Ifans and features a script by Jack Thorne.

On the 3rd day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

3 Hamlets

2017 was the year of Hamlet. At the same time last summer, there were not one, not two, but three productions of Hamlet running in London. In one production, Kenneth Branagh directed Tom Hiddleston in the role of the Danish prince; in another, Robert Icke directed Andrew Scott; and yet another starred Gyles Brandreth at the Park Theatre. Now, which one to go to? That was the question.

On the 2nd day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

2 Norwegian diplomats

Production still from Oslo
Photo by Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

After making a name for itself on Broadway, J.T. Rogers’ Tony Award-winning play Oslo touched down in the West End in September and is now playing at the Harold Pinter Theatre. The play tells the story of two Norwegian diplomats who arranged top-secret meetings between Israel and Palestine, culminating in the Oslo Accords of 1993.

On the 1st day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

1 Day More

The Act I finale from Les Misérables is officially Britain’s favourite showtune – according to a recent poll by theatre website WhatsOnStage. “Defying Gravity” ranked as the second most popular, followed by “The Phantom of the Opera”, “Bring Him Home”, and “Being Alive.” All good songs, indeed.

What was the best theatre-related gift you received this year?

Think you know London’s West End? Test your knowledge in our Theatreland quiz!

Do you know the West End’s streets like the back of your hand? You may think so…but less than half of theatregoers can correctly name 8/10 of these theatrical streets! Can you score a perfect ten?

  1. On which Covent Garden street might you encounter a dark and ghostly female opposite one of London’s Oldest Stage Doors?
  2. Which south London street links an Old Victorian with a Young pretender?
  3. Which Ipswich musical shares its name with any number of streets leading to the nation’s capital city?
  4. What street links Monopoly with a Church of Latter Day Saints?
  5. Which street, sharing its name with a Scottish county, regularly hosts performances of the majestic variety?
  6. On which street might you take a stroll and meet an operatic diva and a grand old Duke?
  7. Which theatrical thoroughfare links a magical potter with a bunch of revolting students?
  8. Which street links a Los Angeles boulevard with a Chichester gypsy?
  9. Which London street will soon see a demonic child at one end and a gothic monster at the other?
  10. Where might you bump into a famous beau on the way to one of central London’s tiniest theatres?

 

Want to check your scores? Get out the answers to our quiz here!

Mad about theatre? Check out our other free to play quizzes and stretch your theatre brain.

The Up & Coming: 7 New Shows Opening In London This Autumn That Will Stir Your Soul!

Do you live for your next Theatre fix? Then you are up for a treat with an extraordinary autumn season in London’s West End. Theatreland is so abuzz with rehearsal gossip it feels like Eros might spontaneously combust! Forget Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – the wizarding world had better get ready to cry “stupefy!” with the flurry of fantastic shows swooping in for their London openings. Here is what you need to know about the next big things:

1. Oslo

When? Playing a the National Theatre From 5 to 23 September, then transferring from 2 October to the Harold Pinter.
What is it? A Broadway smash which flies into the West End via the NT. This Tony-award winning play tells the tale of two maverick Norwegian diplomats who worked, hidden from the world in a forest-shrouded castle outside Oslo, to enable top secret talks between Israel and Palestine – one of the most explosive relationships in history.
Where is it?
National Theatre and then transferring to the Harold Pinter Theatre
Who’s in it?
Toby Stephens (BBC’s Jane Eyre) and Lydia Leonard (Wolf Hall)
How do I get tickets?
Buy tickets here for Oslo and choose your perfect seat

2. Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle

When? In Preview from 3 October
What is it? The UK Premiere from Tony and Olivier Award-winning director Marianne Elliott and playwright Simon Stephens (the creative team behind The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time). In a London train station, two strangers collide…and their lives will never be the same again. Heisenberg spins truth and lies like an infinite ball of string and ponders the question: what brings people together in this uncertain world?
Where is it?
Wyndham’s Theatre
Who’s in it? Anne-Marie Duff (Elizabeth I, Shameless) and Kenneth Cranham (An Inspector Calls)
How do I get tickets?
You can book tickets here for Heisenberg – choose your seats today and take advantage of great preview prices

3. Venus in Fur 

When? In Preview from 6 October
What is it? An adaptation of the 1870 novel, Venus in Furs by the Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (hence the term “masochism”). When seductively beautiful actress, Vanda Jordan, appears unannounced for an audition with director Thomas Novachek, she’s determined to land the leading role in his new production – despite seeming totally wrong for the part. During a single evening in downtown Manhattan, their sexually charged meeting becomes a seductive dance to the very end.
Where is it?
Theatre Royal, Haymarket
Who’s in it?
Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones) and David Oakes (Shakespeare in Love, Victoria) star, with direction by Patrick Marber
How do I get tickets?
Buy tickets here for Venus in Fur and choose your own seats
Best Quote
‘You don’t have to tell me about sadomasochism. I’m in the theatre’

4. A Woman of No Importance

When?  In preview from 6 October
What is it? Oscar Wilde’s glittering satire on English upper-class society with Wilde’s razor sharp wit shines a spotlight on social hypocrisy at the turn of the nineteenth century…but the upper classes haven’t reckoned on the arrival of Mrs Arbuthnot. Wilde gives snobbery a two-fingered salute with some of the best lines you’ll ever hear in a theatre.
Where is it?
Vaudeville Theatre
Who’s in it?
Eve Best (Hedda Gabler) and Anne Reid (Last Tango in Halifax)
How do I get tickets?
Buy tickets here for A Woman of no Importance and get unbiased seat reviews

 

5. Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

When? In preview from 6 November
What is it? A modern fairy tale based on the real-life story of sixteen-year old Jamie New, struggling to fit in on a Sheffield council estate and bursting to tell his secret. The songs, by lead singer-songwriter of The Feeling, Dan Gillespie Sells and writer Tom MacRae (listen here on spotify) are instant classics. With the love of his loving mum and friends, Jamie beats the bullies and steps fearlessly out of the darkness into the spotlight.
Where is it?
Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Theatre
Who’s in it?
John McCrea (The Busker’s Opera), Josie Walker (Matilda), James Gillan (Wicked)
How do I get tickets? Buy tickets for Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and get best-seat advice from other theatre lovers

 

6. The Exorcist

When? In preview from 20 October
What is it? The perfect scare-fest for a dark autumn night. Forty-five years after William Peter Blatty’s best-selling novel left an entire generation paralyzed with fear, The Exorcist is unleashed on West End audiences for the very first time in a uniquely theatrical experience directed by award-winning film and theatre Director Sean Mathias (Bent, No Man’s Land). Guaranteed to leave you slightly hysterical.
Where is it? Phoenix Theatre
Who’s in it? Casting is yet to be announced
How do I get tickets?
Tickets for the Exorcist are on sale now – just don’t go alone!
Most likely thing to hear? “I’m telling you that ‘thing’ upstairs isn’t my daughter…” followed by the screams of a terrified audience ducking behind their seats.

the-exorcist-triplet-one-R3d3

7. Hamilton

(of course this is the most highly anticipated show opening in London, but it is already sold-out)

In Preview from 21 November
What is it? Pirates of the Caribbean meets American civil war as a penniless immigrant becomes US Treasury secretary. As is often the case with those rising to power, Hamilton was self-destructive and fallible, qualities that make for a perfect musical – with more riffing than a Christina Aguilera and Beyoncé diva-off. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop score gets under your skin so you’ll be humming it for weeks. Add in pistol fights, fisticuffs and affairs and you’re in for a real treat!
Where is it? Victoria Palace
Who’s in it? Newcomer Jamael Westman plays Alexander Hamilton supported by Giles Terera (Book of Mormon), Michael Jibson (Our House), Rachelle Ann Go (Miss Saigon)
How do I get tickets? Kill someone. If that fails, we’re promised a daily lottery in-person at the theatre prior to each performance and a weekly lottery online for performances taking place the following week. Follow Hamilton’s Twitter account or Facebook page for updates.

Further ahead

Is it too early to mention the C word? Yep… Christmas is only a few months away and we’re SO excited we’ve already booked tickets to see the Old Vic’s new stage production of A Christmas Carol starring Rhys Ifans, arriving in a new adaptation by Harry Potter and the Cursed Child stage writer Jack Thorne. Our other top stocking-filler for Christmas 2017 has to be booking tickets to see Dick Whittington at the London Palladium starring West End royalty Elaine Paige, Charlie Stemp, Nigel Havers and Julian Clary!

Putting the money where your stage is: Does splashing the cash on a show pay off?

Mounting a world-class Broadway or West End show is a risky business: in the hopes of wooing big audiences, producers often pour millions of dollars into a production. But if the show flops, no one gets their money (and sometimes reputation) back.

So is the budget of a show a predictor of its success?

To find an answer, we looked into the most costly productions in musical theatre history and compared production cost to ticketing revenue – first in London’s West End, then on Broadway. Here’s what we found:

West End

The Lord of the Rings – £22 million ($29.5 million)

Also known as the most expensive mistake in West End history, The Lord of the Rings musical ended up costing £19 million to mount (with inflation, that’s about £22 million), making it the costliest West End musical ever. But the show got mixed reviews and closed after barely a year in the West End. According to Baz Bamigboye (Daily Mail) “selling the story of Middle Earth to Middle England in term-time has proved difficult.” That was an understatement: the show lost the whole of its initial investment.

Definitely didn’t “rule them all” or even “bring them all” to the theatre….

The Lion King – £22.5 million ($30 million)

Following its successful Broadway run, Disney opened a London production of The Lion King musical in 1999 that cost an estimated £18 million (£22.5 million with inflation). That staggering investment has proven worthwhile, though.

An incredibly clever stage design mixed with a classic Disney story have ensured enough bums on the Lyceum Theatre’s seats for over 10 years so far, despite tickets priced at an eye-watering £150 per seat.

Not only has the show merely paid itself off; it’s also become one of the most profitable shows in the history of the West End, grossing more than $6.2 billion worldwide as of 2014 – and much more than that by now.

Wicked – £13 million ($17 million)

Production still from Wicked, one of the highest grossing shows on Broadway

Wicked opened in London in 2006, after a successful Broadway run. By today’s standards, the show cost around £13 million to produce. Initially, it got poor reviews. But with its unique spin on a classic story, an indomitable heroine, and the central friendship between Glinda and Elphaba, Wicked quickly grew into one of the most popular musicals out today.

The show has repeatedly broken box office records in both London and on Broadway, grossing $1.12 billion on Broadway and $4 billion worldwide over the course of its 13+ year run. In fact, the musical just surpassed Phantom of the Opera as the second highest grossing show in Broadway history, and the London show has been playing for nearly eleven years.

Broadway

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark – $81.6 million (£62 million)

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark had a lot going for it: everyone’s favorite human spider, music by Bono, and crazy special effects. Sadly, none of that helped the producers recoup the $75 million (now $81.6 million with inflation) they spent on the show. It opened in 2011 and closed in early 2014. The producers lost about $60 million.

So why did it fail? Reviews emphasized how the show’s crazy number of acrobatics and effects came at the expense of character development and good storytelling. Spider-Man also had a long trial period (183 previews) during which an infinite number of things went wrong: there were often technical difficulties, and several actors were injured.

Shrek the Musical – $28.5 million (£21.7 million)

Shrek the Musical opened in December 2008 with a budget that amounts to $28.5 million with inflation. Despite fairly good reviews, the show closed in January 2010 after a run of just over 12 months. In the end, it seems Shrek was just too expensive to run, and audiences just weren’t that into it. Currently, the show is on tour, trying to recoup its financial losses.

The Lion King – $28.4 million (£21.6 million)

When it comes to musicals, Disney spares no expense. And in this case at least, the expense was justified. The Lion King – the third most expensive musical in Broadway history – opened in 1997 and is still going strong, with productions on Broadway and in the West End. It’s currently the highest grossing musical in Broadway history, having made around $1.38 billion on Broadway during its nearly 20 year run.

The Lion King’s appeal is timeless and spans generations – with a multi-layered story, memorable characters, dazzling costumes, and a killer score – this may explain why it’s been so successful.

So which other musicals have recouped their production costs and then some?

Highest grossing Broadway and West End musicals ever

The Lion King – grossed over $6 billion worldwide

Phantom of the Opera – grossed over $6 billion worldwide

When it opened in 1988 with a production cost of $8 million ($16.5 million today), Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera set a record. It’s since been outstripped by more expensive shows, but in terms of popularity, it’s still up there. The musical has been running in London for 30 years, and has made $1.11 billion on Broadway and over $6 billion worldwide.

Other distinctions include seven Tony Awards, a feature film, and a record as the longest running show in Broadway history and the second longest running show in the West End. Best of all, it didn’t cost $75 million to mount (sorry, Spider-Man).

Like Lion King, Phantom has a gorgeous aesthetic and a story that appeals to both older and younger audiences. It also has some of the most memorable music in theatre, and special effects that are jaw-dropping but don’t detract from the story.

Wicked – grossed over $4 billion worldwide

 

Other notable production costs

Hamilton – $12.9 million (£9.8 million)

Hamilton cost over $12 million to mount, but its producers have already earned that money back with a bonus. Currently in its second year, the show makes roughly $600,000 a week, $100 million a year on Broadway, and $80 million a year in Chicago.

Its inventive score (American Founding Fathers rapping), engaging historical narrative, diverse casting, and strong emotional appeal are all factors in Hamilton’s success. But beyond that, the show’s use of social media for publicity is (dare we say?) revolutionary, and Hamilton has also received a lot of attention from celebrities and politicians.

Les Miserables – $9.6 million (£7 million)

Les Miserables opened on Broadway in 1987 with a production cost of $4.5 million ($9.6 today). Despite that relatively low cost, the show went on to enjoy a 30 year run on Broadway and a 32 year (and counting) run in London, where it’s currently the longest running musical in West End history. 50 major theatre awards, 31 cast recordings, a major motion picture, multiple tours, and a school edition round out the musical’s many accomplishments.

Elements that contribute to this show’s success include a highly singable score, seamless choreography and stage transitions, a host of varied but deeply engaging characters, and a high emotional impact. Les Miserables demonstrates that, “at the end of the day,” a musical without a high production budget can still be extremely successful.

Billy Elliot the Musical – £7.7 million ($10 million)

Billy Elliot the Musical premiered in London in 2005, and ran successfully for 11 years, until 2016. The £5.5 (£7.7 today) million which the producers poured into the show appears to have paid off. Despite some “rough edges,” critic Charles Benson (The Telegraph) wrote that the musical has “a rawness, a warm humour and a sheer humanity… that are worlds removed from the soulless slickness of most musicals.” The show won four Olivier awards, including Best New Musical, and went on to play in Australia and New York, where it picked up 10 Tony Awards.

Rent – $3.5 million (£2.6 million)

Production still from Rent the musical

Even further down the scale is Jonathan Larson’s Rent, which only cost $3.5 million to produce. Nevertheless, it ended up grossing nearly $300 million, and won a Pulitzer Prize and four Tony Awards (including Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book). The musical also got a film adaptation, a touring production, and a 12 year run on Broadway. It launched Idina Menzel’s career and heavily inspired Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. So why did a show with such a small production budget do so well, when Spider-Man flopped despite its $75 million?

Part of Rent‘s popularity hinged on its new approach to musical theatre. The show took an old story (Puccini’s La Boheme), infused it with a pop-style score in the vein of Hair, and adapted it for a contemporary audience. It also sold the first-ever Broadway rush tickets, opening up the theatre to people who couldn’t normally afford it.

Final verdict

In most cases, a higher production cost doesn’t necessarily mean a higher rate of success. In fact, many of the most popular musicals in Broadway history were produced at a relatively low cost.

By contrast, pouring a ton of money into a show still in its infancy is a big risk, and much of the time, you won’t get that money back. Some of the shows with the highest production costs (both West End and Broadway) have also been some of the biggest flops.

So unless you’re The Lion King, it’s probably best to cut production costs where possible. In most cases, a budget of around £13 million ($16 million) or less seems to be the sweet spot. You can increase your show’s chances by avoiding crazy special effects and not just rehashing a story that’s already been told. Rather, be inventive, master the art of publicity, and get a rock-solid score. Even then, show business is a risky enterprise.

If you are The Lion King, “Hakuna Matata.”

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

Where Does London’s West End END? The answer is in this map

Not all London Theatre is West End, not all West End is THE West End. But how are you supposed to know the difference? We’re here to help you with that.

The term West End is used with no official geographical definition as such, therefore, it varies depending on the subject being discussed.

For example, some people refer to the West End as the Central West part of London.  Ed Glinert’s West End Chronicles (2006)  describes the districts falling within the West End as Mayfair, Soho, Covent Garden, Fitzrovia and Marylebone. By this definition, the West End borders Temple, Holborn and Bloomsbury to the east, Regent’s Park to the north, Paddington, Hyde Park and Knightsbridge to the west, and Victoria and Westminster to the south. This is a large area in comparison to the Theatreland definition of the West End.

Traditionally, the West End sits within the boundaries of Regent Street, Oxford Street, Kingsway and The Strand. However, The Apollo Victoria and the Victoria Palace Theatre are both also considered “West End Theatres” despite being in Victoria, which is outside this area. They are part of a classification of West End Theatre by means of the ‘type’ of shows they host – Big, blockbuster Andrew Lloyd Webber type of shows. It seems they are self-proclaimed West End Theatres and no one really dared to say otherwise!

Anyhow, If you are planning on getting yourself into a walking self-tour of the West End in a theatrical sense, I’d keep within the classical boundaries, because Victoria is a little bit far to go by foot, and it is also not very pretty as it stands now in 2017, being cramped with construction work – there isn’t much to see there!

A Map Of London's West End
An easy visualisation of London’s iconic Theatre District, the West End, and its boundaries.