West End musicals, plays and Shakespeare: What’s on in London theater right now
If you’ve come to be wow-ed by the vibrancy of London’s theater scene, the West End is the place to be. You’re in for a treat with the musical talent that is on display, from childhood favorites like “Mary Poppins” to modern adaptations like “& Juliet”. And it’s not just musicals. Fancy a little bit of traditional Shakespeare? You’re spoilt for choice with Shakespearean classics at the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and many other historic venues in the heart of London.
We’ve narrowed down a list of the best shows in London theater that you can catch right now and where to watch them.
Musicals and shows on London’s West End
The Lion King
Where to watch: Lyceum Theatre
Set against the backdrop of the beautiful Serengeti Plains, the award-winning musical adaptation of The Lion King is truly a sight to behold. Featuring music by Tim Rice and Elton John, immerse yourself in the stunning sets and enchanting music as you follow the adventures of lion cub Prince Simba. A staple in London theater, The Lion King is showing exclusively at Lyceum Theatre, with standard and top-price seating available for you to experience the performance in its full glory.
Dear Evan Hansen
Where to watch: Noel Coward Theatre
Coined the “musical of its generation, for all generations” by BBC Radio 2, Dear Evan Hansen is a multiple award-winning musical that delves into the struggles of connecting in a hyperconnected world. With giants like Tony-nominated director Michael Greif and the brilliant songwriting duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul behind it, this musical is one for the ages and a must-watch show in London. Head down to the Noel Coward Theatre for a performance you won’t forget.
Where to watch: Queen’s Theatre
If you’re a fan of London theater, you’ve probably heard of Les Misérables, one of the world’s most iconic and beloved musicals. Adapted from Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel of the same name, Les Misérables is set in 19th-century France rampant with violence, poverty, revolution and historical turbulence. Prepare to have your heartstrings pulled as you journey with ex-convict Jean Valjean and his hunter policeman Javert, while other characters find and lose love all at once. To get you in the mood, upgrade your ticket to enjoy a delicious 3-course pre-show dinner at L’Escargot, which also showcases artworks by Chagall, Matisse and Hockney. After which, take a lovely stroll to the Queen’s Theatre and get ready to experience an iconic piece of London theatre.
Where to watch: Apollo Victoria Theatre
Yet another wickedly “popular” musical, Wicked The Musical is one you shouldn’t miss. This show sheds some light on the origin story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, and her budding friendship with Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. You’ll be blown away by the powerhouse vocals to rousing music by Stephen Schwartz, Tony award-winning sets and high-flying stunts. Catch this stunning performance at the Apollo Victoria Theatre right in the heart of London.
Phantom of Opera
Where to watch: Her Majesty’s Theatre
From the prodigy that is Andrew Lloyd Webber comes The Phantom of the Opera, a melancholic musical that will enrapture you with its spellbinding score. Inspired by a 1909 French thriller by Gaston Leroux, this musical features a terrifying figure living in the shadows of the Paris Opera House who yearns for the love of his protégée, Christine Daaé. The elaborate sets, beautiful costumes and stunning vocals will have you shouting encore from your seats at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London.
Book of Mormon
Where to watch: Prince of Wales Theatre
Another don’t-miss show on London West End is The Book of Mormon, a hilariously honest musical from the creators of South Park. Follow the stories of two mismatched Mormon Boys who land in Uganda and attempt to evangelize in an environment wholly different from the ones they grew up in. With a healthy dose of catchy-yet-controversial numbers, you’ll be in for a laugh with the musical that has the highest-charting Broadway cast album in more than 40 years. Make your way down to the Prince of Wales Theatre for a night of satire, rule-breaking and some good ol’ fun.
Where to watch: Shaftesbury Theatre
Everyone’s heard of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the tale of two star-crossed lovers that ends in tragedy. Add a good dose of comedy, catchy pop tunes and an alternate ending where Juliet doesn’t die, and you get & Juliet. This witty musical features songs from globally acclaimed songwriter Max Martin and follows the story of Juliet as she navigates heartbreak and life after Romeo.
Where to watch: Prince Edward Theatre
A character that needs no introduction, Mary Poppins returns to the West End to whisk you off into her magical world. Be brought back to your childhood as the crowd sings along to nostalgic tunes like “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “Let’s Go Fly a Kite”. Following the lives of super nanny Mary Poppins and cockney charmer Bert, this classic musical is perfect for a family night out.
Shakespeare plays on in London
Merchant of Venice
Where to watch: Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
A Shakespearean work that needs no introduction, The Merchant of Venice is an age-old play that highlights the flaws of a society, one that exploits minorities to keep the rich in power. Abigail’s Graham’s skillful retelling of this play charts the ill-fortunes of the ostracized Jewish moneylender, Shylock, as he chases his “pound of flesh”. You’ll be left reflecting on prejudice, patriarchy and capitalism as you marvel at the designs by award-winning designer, Sarah Beaton, in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.
Where to watch: Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
Led by Associate Artistic Director, Sean Holmes, this stage production of Hamlet is being performed for the very first time in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. When Prince Hamlet is presented with a secret that threatens to tear apart everything he knows, he doesn’t know who or what to believe. Watch as his world hangs in the balance before him in this Shakespearean classic about family feuds, deceit and revenge.
More like this: