The Five Longest Running Musicals in London
So you fancy a night out at the theatre – to see what? With so many shows on in the West End, the options can seem rather limitless, making the choice difficult. If staying-power is any indication of quality, then why not consider the five longest running productions that are still pleasing London audiences.
5. Mamma Mia. Showing at the Prince of Wales Theatre, this jukebox-style musical has been wowing audiences for 11 years and counting. The musical was brought together by Catherine Johnson, who used songs by the Swedish singing supergroup ABBA to create an entirely original theatre production. Its popularity recently translated into a major motion picture starring Meryl Streep in 2008.
4. Chicago. Set in the 1920s, this Kander and Ebb musical brings the decadence and darkness of the prohibition era in Chicago to life. The sordid story explores corruption, fame, and criminality, and the revival production on the West End has been pulling in large audiences ever since its debut back in 1997. The memorable numbers such as “All That Jazz” and quintessential characters such as Roxie make this a popular piece all around. It’s also true to say that Chicago is known as the sexiest musical on the London stage today.
3. Blood Brothers. Opening back in 1988, Blood Brothers is now running in its 22nd year! This timeless saga explores the relationship of nature versus nurture through the tale of fraternal twins separated at birth. While one brother climbs to the top of the social spectrum, the other ends up unemployed and penniless. The tale turns tragic as both brothers fall in love with the same woman, and audiences keep coming back for more of this heartbreaking tale.
2. Phantom of the Opera. This Andrew Lloyd Webber classic features the story of an aspiring opera singer in her journey through stardom and love. The magnificent songs and the epic story of unrequited love have been wooing audiences since 1986. The moody and melodic numbers are paired with interactive sets, which make this a show that is guaranteed to please.
1. Les Miserables. No musical production can hold a candle to the timeless quality of Les Miserables. Since it opened in the West End in 1985, this musical has been moving audiences for 24 years! This award-winning show is based on the Victor Hugo novel, and follows the struggle of people in 19th century France. The tale is one of revolution and redemption, and is best known for its gorgeous musical numbers, such as “I Dreamed a Dream.”
Time is the true test for any classic, and these five musicals have met that requirement and continue to excel. So, when looking for London theatre tickets, be sure to hit the classics first and see what all audiences have known for years.
Eoin — known to almost everyone except his mum as Ian — has written for many publications in his native south Wales and further afield. He currently lives in London’s trendy Docklands with his partner. Both are regular faces in West End theatre audiences.