6 Longest Running West End Shows

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West End Shows London

An absolute treat that comes with staying at The Chilworth London Paddington is not only the London Paddington hotel deals but the proximity to London’s West End – a district of London favoured for many things, from restaurants to monuments, but best-loved as London’s theatre and entertainment district. Plays, musicals and theatrical performances come and go, but some shows have been so widely successful that they have been running for years. Here are those available to watch in London still. 

 

1. Wicked 

 

Wicked is the story of the witches from the Wizard of Oz – mainly, it is the narrative of the unheard story of the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba, and her relationship with the Good Witch, Glinda. It started as a Broadway production in 2003, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman, and hit the West End in 2006 at Victoria’s Apollo Theatre. Since its conception, Wicked has continuously broken box-office records and beguiled audiences from around the world with touring shows. It was recently renewed for the 24th time, and bookings can be made for up until May 2020. 

 

Book ticketshttps://www.wickedthemusical.co.uk

 

2. Les Misérables 

 

Les Misérables is the story of 19th century France, where Jean Valjean, a French peasant, after being released from a nineteen-year jail sentence, toils through a quest for redemption for the act that had him imprisoned: stealing a loaf of bread for his sister’s starving child. It is a sweeping tale of life amidst the French revolution and is a sung-through musical of Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel. Having opened in October 1985 at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Barbican Theatre, Les Misérables is London’s longest-standing show. That same year, in December 1985, it was moved to the Palace Theatre. In 2004, it moved to the Queen’s Theatre where it remained until closing this year in July. However, on 10 August of this year at Gielgud Theatre, it has been on in a concert-version, where it will continue until 30 November and then be replaced on 18 December with a revival of another, smaller-scale production in the refurbished Queen’s Theatre. The effort that has been put into keeping the show running in some form is a testimony to how a trip to the production has become synonymous with a trip to London. 

 

Book tickets: https://www.lesmis.com/london

 

3. The Phantom of the Opera 

 

The Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera is the famed musical genius of our time, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s tale of a young operatic soprano singer, Christine Daaé, who becomes the preoccupation of a phantom-like figure – a mysterious and disfigured musical genius who lives in the subterranean labyrinth beneath the Paris Opéra House. It started in October 1986 – a year after Les Misérables – and is still running at Her Majesty’s Theatre, where it started. It has won awards aplenty and is a beacon of entertainment in London’s West End. 

 

Book tickets: https://www.fromtheboxoffice.com/42KY-the-phantom-of-the-opera/

 

4. Mamma Mia! 

Mamma Mia is a musical based around the songs of pop sensations, ABBA, composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, former band-members. Though not the longest-running West End show, it is the longest-running jukebox musical in London. It started out at the Prince Edward Theatre in 1999 and moved to the Prince of Wales Theatre in 2004. It is currently at Novello Theatre and has been there since September 2012. It is a force to be reckoned with and much-loved activity for visitors to London and locals alike. Since its debut, over 60 million people have seen the show. It has since been turned into two smash-hit films starring Meryl Streep. 

 

Book tickets: https://mamma-mia.com

 

5. The Lion King 

 

The Lion King

The Lion King is a treasured part of most modern adults’ childhood. The Disney 1994 film took the world by a storm with its story of a young lion cub who is tricked by his wicked uncle into leaving his pride and his life in the Kenyan bush. It is now a part of modern childrens’ childhood, too, as a live-action remake has been made by Disney. However, in the interim, the musical production was written and has been performed on London’s West End since October 1999. It opened just off the Strand at Lyceum Theatre and is still running here. In 2004, the production surpassed The Phantom of the Opera as the highest-grossing title in box-office history for both stage productions and films. Watching The Lion King has become as essential a feature of visiting London as exploring Columbia Flower Market, enjoying a stroll in Hyde Park or eating at the best restaurants in Paddington.

 

Book tickets: https://www.thelyceumtheatre.com/

 

6. The Mousetrap 

 

To save the oldest for last, The Mousetrap is London’s longest-running West End show. It is the beloved Agatha Christie’s murder mystery play that is currently running at St. Martin’s Theatre, having run uninterrupted since 6 October 1952, apart from two days of closure during its transfer to St. Martin’s in 1974. However, for its start from 6 October to 25 November, it premiered at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham, so was only constituted a West End show on 25 November when it opened at the New Ambassadors Theatre. By 1964, it had been performed 5,000 times, unknowing of how this trajectory would continue. Once it started up again after the short closure in 1974 for it to move to St. Martin’s, it has continued to gain traction annually. With current statistics, it has been performed 27,874 times. 

 

Book tickets: https://www.fromtheboxoffice.com/city/2957-london/ZWDR-the-mousetrap/

 

So while the statement “you can’t visit London without seeing a play on the West End” rings true as ever, the adapted statement could be made: you can’t visit the West End without seeing one of these six long-running shows – they have been going for so long for a reason. Simply, they’re excellent and loved by audiences from across the globe, throughout the decades and many different ages. 

 

Be sure to enjoy the pre-theatre restaurant packages on offer in the West End, and book your room at The Chilworth London Paddington to ensure you get the best deal!

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