What West End Shows Have I Seen?
Over the last few weeks, I have seen many West End Shows. My family and I are big musical fans, so of course we go to the West End whenever we can.
Today I thought I should share a run-down of the shows I have seen on the West End, and my topline thoughts.
Come From Away
The show I saw most recently was Come From Away a sung-through, 1 hour 40-minute production with no interval. It is possibly the most uplifting musical I’ve ever seen, despite its initial premise of being set in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. The songs are fun, the comedy is hilarious and the characterization is incredibly well done. Well worth taking the family to see this one.
My mum and I attempted to see this production three times before we finally got in the door. The first time was canceled due to the lockdown of 2020, then we arrived at the theatre only to wait for 1 hour outside before they told us the show was canceled. They never gave a reason, but we’re guessing COVID. And then finally in January 2022, we managed to get in. Zizzy Strallen and Charlie Stemp were incredible and I enjoyed myself whenever they were on-stage. But the story was disjointed, a bit too scary for children I’d say, and honestly when Mary and Bert weren’t on stage I was bored.
I managed to get seats to Aladdin in Stalls, Row F for just £15 and I thought why not. It wasn’t on my to-watch list and was expecting a pantomime performance. Instead, I saw one of the best costume productions I’ve ever seen, I laughed until I cried and the songs (both familiar and new) were brilliant. One of my favourite productions I’ve seen on the West End.
It’s been some years since I saw Mamma Mia on the West End but I remember loving it. I was probably no more than 13 so the adult humour went right over my head. But as a lover of the movie and ABBA, I had a rip-roaring time. This is an example of a Jukebox Musical – using popular music to create a storyline – done well.
My dad’s favourite. I saw this on stage for my birthday with both of my parents. Alfie Boe was playing Jean Valjean at the same, however, we had his understudy who did an admirable job but missed a few high notes. We also saw Matt Lucas as Thenardier, which honestly was a little underwhelming. The staging was fantastic, I wept when Eponine and Gavroche died, but I think I’d like to see it again before casting my final opinion.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
On my seventh birthday, my mum took me to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium. It was a school day and we went to see a matinee performance so there weren’t many children there and we were close to the front. It was my first big West End production with just my mum and a family friend for company, and I was completely spoilt. Michael Ball played Caractacus Potts, Brian Blessed was the Baron and Richard O’Brien was The Child-Catcher. At the end of the show after the curtain came down Michael Ball lifted it up again to wave to me as I was one of the only children there, not to mention Richard O’Brien singled me out during the show and completely terrified me. A proper welcome to the West End world.
Thoroughly Modern Millie
Another birthday production. I remember walking into the theatre and I remember walking out again. Apart from that, nothing. Clearly not a memorable show – but I love the movie so I’m not bothered.
My third birthday production – this was becoming a tradition at this point – was to see Bonnie Langford in Chicago. I loved Bonnie, she had recently come 3rd on Dancing on Ice which was a family favourite at the time. I remember the Cell Block Tango scene clearly but not much else but I was about 11 years old to be fair. Afterward, we met Bonnie at the stage door and she was a delight.
I’ve seen Wicked twice and would happily go back a third time. I love retellings and this is the ultimate prequel/re-telling of a classic. I’ve tried to read the book many times and found it dull and lifeless, but that is the exact opposite of the show. The production is fantastic, the storyline very clever and the music is world-famous for a reason.
I have finally seen Hamilton. After a 2 year wait, my parents and I saw the production in January 2022. I had watched the Broadway recording on Disney+ a few months before and I already knew the soundtrack backward so really I was just completing a wish. It was very good and definitely worth seeing in the flesh if you can get tickets.
We Will Rock You
My family went to see We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre for a family day-out. We are all major Queen fans, so of course, we all loved it. Yes, the storyline is tenuous at best, but the music more than makes up for it.
The Book of Mormon
This is a musical that some will love for its humour and willingness to cross (stampede over!) a line. For me, it was too cringe-y and I would not want to see it again.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
I took myself off to see this production with the original cast a few years back for £15 and I’d happily pay £50. It was very good. I must admit, I hate the recently released film adaptation. What innocence and comedy there was on the stage – and the clever staging – was removed when they put the show on screen oddly. Plus, John McCrea as Jamie was iconic.
My mum got me into Evita at a young age. I was watching the film adaptation with Madonna and Antonio Banderas probably from the age of six, so I was really looking forward to seeing the musical on the West End. It’s not an easy production to watch but the music is so moving and the staging and cast were very good.
Just before COVID hit I saw Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre. I really enjoyed it, although I know a lot of people who didn’t. It’s darker than the film is, which is impressive as the film has some pretty dark moments. But there is no discounting the impact of hearing someone sing And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going on stage.
Recently, I saw the Andrew Lloyd Webber production of Cinderella with the original cast. It’s a nice, family-orientated show. Would I rush back to see it? Probably not, but would still recommend others check it out if they like easy-going, modern shows. My full review of Cinderella can be found here.
About three weeks before the country went into lockdown, my friend and I saw & Juliet on-stage near Holborn with the original cast. It’s a lot of fun, with modern jukebox songs to sing along to. Telling the events of Romeo and Juliet as if Juliet hadn’t killed herself upon waking to find Romeo’s body. This musical is fun, modern, and entertaining. A fun day out.
School of Rock
And finally, School of Rock. Another Andrew Lloyd Webber production, but this time adapted from a film to stage. It really is the entire movie thrown on stage with two or three original songs thrown over the top. Fun, but I wouldn’t purchase tickets to see it again.
What West End shows have you seen? Any that you would recommend or would want to see from the list above? Let me know in the comments below.