Travelers have always been drawn to London’s West End. Throughout the ages, it was London’s playground. But with its shopping, galleries, and amazing food it’s easy to forget theaters. The West End has a staggering amount of over 40 theaters and performance venues. The oldest existing one was built over 400 years ago!
When in London, I always frantically flip through Encore Tickets on my phone to find something I can go see and get tickets to immediately. I have dragged many friends away from pubs, shops, and other very important activities to go see a musical or a play.
My philosophy is this: you can go to a British pub anywhere. Seriously. They have British pubs in Kenya, New York, and Nepal. Same with shops and restaurants. But you won’t get a chance to comfortably sink into a theater seat and see some of the world’s best actors live on stage unless you are in the West End.
Here are some of the shows that I cannot wait to see the next time I’m in London. And the last one on the list is worth a special trip if you happen to be anywhere in the vicinity!
The Book of Mormon
This might sound like a strange choice to see in the land of Shakespeare, but it might be more appropriate than you think.
Young William was a rock star of his day, and The Book of Mormon was written by none other than Trey Parker and Matt Stone, in collaboration with Robert Lopez. This is a whirlwind pop culture spectacle, blending the cynical humor of South Park’s creators with the musical genius of the very person who put “Let It Go” on Elsa’s lips (and your toddler’s).
If you are looking to exit the theater with a song in your step and a slightly pretentious air of social satire in your eye, look no further than The Book of Mormon.
Sometimes I go to the theater and don’t want to see too much realism or on-point political or social commentary. Okay, maybe a little bit. But mostly I just want to be in a completely different world for a few hours.
Wicked explores the real life of witches in the Land of Oz—and it’s a bit different than portrayed in the 1939 film. The show is based on Gregory Maguire’s book and explores the life of the Wicked Witch of the West, and what made her so very wicked.
Aside from the smart and captivating subject matter, the show was an ultimate success from the time of its premiere in 2003. It is Broadway’s sixth longest-running show, and the original production won three Tommy Awards.
The London production of Wicked is Lawrence Olivier-nominated, and truly a must see. It’s been running since 2006. There have been slight changes made to fit the London crowd, but surprisingly, most of them have been incorporated into the other productions. A trendsetter!
I’m not going to say that Kit Harrington of GOT’s Jon Snow fame was a deciding factor in picking True West to be on this I-can’t-wait-to-see list. I know and you know that he was, so let’s move on and find out more about this theatric gem.
It’s always amazing to see how versatile British actors are. You will get chances to see them perform on stage more often than their American counterparts. They are classically-trained and they like to keep on top of their game.
Kit Harrington and the South African actor Johnny Flynn are definitely at the top of their game in this excruciating theatrical tale. Two brothers meet after years of silence. One is a successful career man and the other one a burglar. Psychological drama ensues.
True West has a limited run, and if you are in town then I recommend you take out that phone and start booking now!