Your complete guide to London’s West End

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Even if you wouldn’t call yourself a seasoned thespian or an expert on plays, we’re sure that you’ve heard of London’s West End district.

This is where the heart of theatre beats in the city, actors, singers, dancers, sound engineers, costume designers and more all strive to work with a huge West End production; it’s a major accolade for anyone to be a part of a successful show on this circuit.

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Incredibly, there are some shows that have been in venues for decades and over the years, they have been updated to keep people coming back again and again.

There are so many different shows to choose from, that it can be hard to know where to start but luckily, we’ve brought together a list of some of our top recommendations to give you something to work from. Whatever you do though, make seeing a West End show part of your to-do list when you’re in London, you won’t regret it for a second.

Gielgud Theatre and its shows

Not all theatres in the West End have showcased the same play or musical over the years and one of these such venues is the Gielgud Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue.

This spot is known for housing some of the best dramas that have been on in the city with big-name actors treading the boards and treating the audience. People who have acted here include Patrick Stewart and Daniel Radcliffe; the list is impressive!

Currently, the Gielgud is showing the stage show adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, which was a best-selling book written by Mark Haddon about a boy with asperger’s syndrome. It’s a very moving show and would be a great one to see even if you’re travelling to the city by yourself.

The Lion King at The Lyceum

The Lyceum Theatre is one of the best known venues in the West End, not just for the shows that it boasts but also due to its luxurious red and gold decor. Even if you just go to take a look at the theatre’s appearance, we guarantee that your breath will be completely taken away.

Having said that, when you go to take a look, we’re sure that you’ll want to stay, particularly as the current show in residence is The Lion King. Many amazing musicals have been successful at the Lyceum but this one has definitely found a home here.

Fans of the original Disney movie are sure to love this, as are animal lovers and for those of you who are particularly discerning, this is consistently a hit with critics.

Theatre Royal and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The Theatre Royal is on Drury Lane, which has always been celebrated for hosting some of the best shows ever on the West End.

Over the years, parts of the theatre have been rebuilt for upkeep and expansions but overall, it has sat on this site for more than 350 years. Big names in the theatre and movie business are drawn to this venue and the current show – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – is directed by Sam Mendes of American Beauty and Skyfall fame.

It’s fair to say that this show is perfect for the whole family, as the action retells the classic Roald Dahl story but is given a new dimension with songs and surprises that make it an unmissable show.

Located close to Covent Garden, you’ll be able to find somewhere nice to eat before or after the show but make sure you book tickets in advance for this one, as it sells out quickly.

Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre

Currently, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera is celebrating its 31st year on stage at Her Majesty’s Theatre in the West End and it’s easy to see why.

This is probably one of the most mesmerising shows that London’s theatre district has to offer; people from all over the world come to see it more than once because it has just about everything you would want from a musical.

Drama and a love story are obviously a huge part of this musical, but what makes it truly special are the songs and unexpected surprises that surprise and maybe even scare you at times.

The theatre itself has stood in its place since 1705, was originally known as the Queen’s Theatre and was a home for opera – so the current musical is extremely fitting.

You should be able to get tickets for this show without booking too far in advance and the ticket booths you see stationed around Leicester Square will give you cheaper tickets that are still in great areas of the theatre.

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