From the Adelphi to the Victoria Palace, central London has over forty theatres. For countless visitors, ‘taking in a show’ is among the key draws – But with this much choice on offer, where do they begin?
London’s biggest concentration of theatres lies in the center of the bustling West End. Some people have the complex on the South Bank. The Strand itself is one of the notable roads for theaters, together with Shaftesbury Avenue and Drury Lane.
Most of the theaters are with fascinating histories attached. Nearly all of them keep character that is amazing and, for a lot of visitors, entering a theater’s grand facade and taking in its thorough, luxurious inside all enhances their enjoyment of the show itself.
Musicals are the strongest favourite with theatregoers and so have a tendency to run longer than stage plays, many of them for thousands of performances. Actually, Les Miserables, now in the Queen’s Theater, is running to get a phenomenal 24 years. It’s even earned its own colloquial name of ‘Les Miz.’ Based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel bearing the same name, the musical follows the intertwining lives of a cast of poor, unfortunate characters struggling for redemption.
Heart strings are also tugged in Willy Russell’s long-running musical Blood Brothers, now playing at the Phoenix Theatre. Now in its twentieth year, it tells the modern story of twins who were separated at birth both falling for the exact same lady.
There is certainly no shortage of musicals to pick from. Content can range from depressed and thought provoking, right through the pleasure of Mamma Mia! Using its fender stock of Queen tunes and on up to futuristic, such as We Will Rock You, at the Prince of Wales Theatre and now in its eighth year in The Dominion.
Meanwhile, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s productions continue to prove amazingly popular. His musical Cats ran Majesty’s Theatre enjoying its 23rd year. on the novel by Gaston Leroux, is at Her for almost 9,000 performances and his equally successful Phantom of the Opera, based Lloyd Webber’s new musical, Love Never Dies, starts in March 2010 at The Adelphi and picks up the storyline of ‘Phantom.’
Also popular are stage plays, many of which love drawn-out runs, although none have yet caught The Mousetrap, currently showing at St Martins Theatre, which has been playing for a staggering 56 years.
The Woman in Black, adapted from Susan Hill’s horror novel has got the audience trembling in the Fortune Theatre in their seats. This stage play of a sinister spectre haunting a little English town is now in its 21st year.
Other, less-menacing shows also seem to be set for long runs. The Lion King, for example, is still drawing in strong audiences in The Lyceum ten years after its opening, as is Billy Elliott at the Victoria Palace Theatre, currently dancing into its fourth year.
Musicals performing songs which are already well known, such as Grease (Piccadilly Theatre) and the more recent Thriller (Lyric) continue to be popular with those searching for a ’sing-along’ element. Also appreciating open ended runs are Hairspray in the Shaftesbury Theatre, the recent Sister Act in the London Palladium along with Dirty Dancing at the Aldwych,
Some shows lend themselves to considerably shorter, seasonal jogs for smaller audiences, including A Christmas Carol at the two-tier auditorium of the Arts Theatre in Westminster.