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Of all the cities in the world, one city that really owns my heart is London.

I seem to become a better version of myself as I walk through Hyde Park or by Buckingham Palace to wave to the Queen. I tend to dress with more class and walk with a bit of grace in case I might run into Kate or Meghan.

There’s definitely no shortage of things to do in London, but by far my favorite experience is to take in a musical on the West End.

Whether it’s Jersey Boys or The Lion King, (and I’ve been known to take in two shows in a day!) there’s a giddy sense of excitement that comes with purchasing a West End Musical ticket, as I know I am about to be transported into another world.

Yes, I frequently superfan over the West End, so if it’s your lifelong dream to see a performance in London, the following have become my all time favorites, to the point where I’ve seen them again and again.

I have also included my “Bucket List” musicals that I hope to see during my future visits to London. So without further ado, I give you …

The Best Musicals to See in London (From a Superfan of the West End)

What Makes the West End Impressive

I think what makes a West End Musical so impressive is knowing just how much effort has gone into producing such a performances.

For a musical to make it into the West End, it requires music that you won’t be able to get out of your head, a compelling storyline, and exceptional actors that really know how to bring intriguing characters to life.

There’s a reason why 15 million people shell out around £700 million pounds each year in the West End Theatres. Dozens of theatres offer classic musical favourites as well as new hits that will carry the baton into the future.

Obviously, some shows are more stand out than others. I highly recommend you see …

Wicked

Although it is difficult to choose a favourite musical, my vote would have to go to Wicked. I have lost track of how many times I have seen the performance in the West End, and each time seems to move me more and more.

Who doesn’t love a good prequel? Step inside the Apollo Victoria Theatre to see the beginnings of the Wizard of Oz and how Glinda the Good and the Wicked Witch of the West came to be.

The visual effects are stunning and try as I might to sing “Defying Gravity”, I could never match the hauntingly beautiful sound that comes of that stage.

Wicked has racked up more than 100 international awards and has been seen by roughly 9 million lucky people in the West End alone.

Play the Trailer

The Lion King

You’d be hard pressed to find a person that doesn’t recognise the song that is sung when Young Simba is raised to the sky by the baboon, Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba!

Feel the rhythms and beats of Africa as the Lyceum Theatre takes you on a safari across the Serengeti plains. I wouldn’t have thought you could one-up the Disney movie, but the musical seems to bring the story to life even more.

I challenge you to not start dancing when they start singing “Hakuna Matata”.

Play the Trailer

Chicago

Chicago seems to bring out my seductive sexy side every time I see it. The story was made for the stage and follows a satirical tale of fame, justice, and the media in 1920s America.

It has many claims to fame such as having been performed in 36 countries, grossing over $1.5 billion, and “all that jazz”. Its London revival has become the longest-running American musical in West End history.

Enjoy this masterpiece at the Phoenix Theatre.

Play the Trailer

Dreamgirls

You better be quick with this one, because Dreamgirls will play its final performance at the Savoy Theatre on January 19, 2019.

Bring out your inner diva as you sing along to songs like “I Am Changing” and “One Night Only”. The story, also set in Chicago, tells of a female singing trio named “The Dreams” who rise to become music superstars.

Play the Trailer

In Memory Of: Legally Blonde (RIP)

Even though Legally Blonde’s journey on the West End came to an end in 2012, I had to give it a mention.

My love for this one may be a bit biased since I have a degree in law, but the story of a sorority girl named Elle Woods who enrols at Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend is the perfect guilty pleasure for any girl.

My Bucket List Musicals

Les Misérables

Although Les Misérables premiered in Paris in 1980, it is its continuous run in London’s West End since 1985 which has seen it become the second longest-running musical in the world and longest-running musical in the West End.

Although I know the story well, I have yet to see this musical icon. Be transported back in time to 19th-century France, as you watch a peasant seek redemption after serving nearly two decades in jail for stealing bread for his sister’s starving child.

It is a production fit for a Queen and aptly can be seen in the Queen’s Theatre.

Play the Trailer

Aladdin

Yes it has all the hit songs from the legendary Disney movie such as “A Whole New World”, but it is the mind-blowing sets and special effects which take centre stage with this musical…or so I’ve heard.

I can’t believe I haven’t seen this musical yet with its talented cast adorned in hundreds of costumes and impressive orchestra. All I need is a big blue genie to grant me just one wish to see this production in the Prince Edward Theatre.

Play the Trailer

Mamma Mia

Here we go again, one more musical I somehow haven’t seen. With the new sequel now out in cinemas, I am even more eager to get to this musical.

If you weren’t in a good mood before, you most certainly will be after rocking out to ABBA’s greatest hits. You’ll laugh, cry, and be left wanting book a flight to your own Greek island paradise. Catch Mamma Mia in the Novello Theatre.

Play the Trailer

Matilda the Musical

And finally, as an Australian and big fan of Aussie singer-songwriter-comedian Tim Minchin, I would love to see Matilda the Musical.

Minchin is the composer and lyricist of great original songs that can be heard in Matilda. It tells the story of an extraordinary girl armed with a vivid imagination who dares to take a stand and change her own destiny.

I’d like to think I have lived my own life in a similar manner. You can catch this gem in the Cambridge Theatre.

Play the Trailer

Flights to London

Because I would absolutely fly to London just to spend time on the West End! Find the cheapest flights to London by downloading the free Skyscanner app. Click for:

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.

    

Photo credits: Featured photo of Aladdin the Musical by HarshLight.

    18 Comments

  1. I consider New York and London the places to go when one wants theater. Of course, I can make it to New York for a whole lot less (money and time), so that’s a more frequent place for me to enjoy theater. But, my next trip to London will be when I see Hamilton for the (almost) umpteenth time.

    • Absolutely, NY and London are definitely THE two places in the world for professional theatre. I love them both, but London is probably my favorite overall city 😀

      I haven’t seen Hamilton yet but I’ve heard absolutely rave reviews!! I’ll have to try and make it to a performance on my next trip. Enjoy!

  2. You need to see Les Miserables asap! It’s my all-time favourite show, it’s amazing.

    • I’m DYING to see it! I’ve seen amateur productions of it, but they were local High School versions … the West End is obviously a completely different level!

  3. Wow – The way to my heart is a date at a musical!

  4. Chicago is the best trailer, I will see the whole video. And thank you sharing this list with us.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Zahid, Chicago is one of my favorite trailers too – loved the film adaption as well!

  5. Brilliant list here Meg. All classics. I rarely make it to the theater yet am bombarded with signs when walking through the theater district here in NYC, and my wife and other fans rave about all these shows. She is obsessed with Legally Blonde the movie but has only watched in 145 times LOL.

    Ryan

    • Thanks Ryan, glad you enjoyed the post! I LOVE the theatre, you should tell Kelly that if Legally Blonde is on stage in NYC definitely stop in to see the show, it’s spectacular!!

      And if you make it to London maybe you can surprise her with a West End date night. I’m sure it would score major brownie points 😀

  6. I’m in Brussels for a few weeks and I’m seriously contemplating going to London on a day trip to see a musical!

    • You should!! I seriously can’t get enough of the West End, I’m in 😀

  7. We really need to see the Lion King!

    • Yes you do!! The Lion King is truly INCREDIBLE :D!

  8. I saw Phantom of the Opera and Bombay Dreams in London in 2003. Jerry and I saw Wicked in 2015, and we just saw School of Rock last month, both on the WestEnd. Loved them ALL!

    • Isn’t the theatre just pure magic! I haven’t seen Bombay Dreams or School of Rock so will have to add those to my West End bucketlist. Thanks for the recommendations!

  9. I am a great fan ..I saw Lion King there at Lyceum.

    • Easily the most fabulous show on the West End!

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