Age-net takes a run through the best shows that the west end currently has to offer
The West End has never been busier, with theatres on every corner and new shows opening almost every week, you are bound to find a show to fall in love with somewhere in London. Seasoned theatre-goers will no doubt want to see them all, but those who think they find theatre dull and uninteresting will be blown away by the current selection of award-winning shows on the West End.It is true that tickets can be expensive but there are ways of getting tickets at reduced rates. Try websites like lastminute.com and other sites which sell tickets for many different shows, rather than contacting the theatre directly. Ask if there are special deals for people over a certain age to see if you can get a further discount. If the tickets are still too expensive, try visiting one of the half-price ticket booths in or around Leicester Square to get heavily reduced tickets on the day of the performance.
The Lion King
The Lion King has now been on the London stage for a number of years and has been seen by thousands of people. It is an incredibly visual show and every few minutes you will see something to take your breath away. You will easily forget that the actors on stage are human and will get completely wrapped up in the story of the animals and their trials and triumphs.
Contrary to popular belief, this is not just a show for the kids. It is a spectacular musical with some of the most talented actors in the West End playing physically demanding roles night after night. The colours are amazing and will transport you straight into the deserts of Africa. It is a touching story with moments of hilarity and heartbreak and beautiful displays of puppetry. The way in which it is staged is so innovative and is truly breath-taking the whole way through.
Matilda the musical brings to life Roald Dahl’s genius story of a little girl addicted to reading. The music has all been written by Tim Minchin and it is catchy, extremely clever and musically beautiful in equal measure. It is a comedy, there are numerous moments where you will cry with laughter and you are bound to leave the theatre with a face aching from smiling too much and a stomach tight from laughing. The child actors are all fantastic and thoroughly well cast and the adults complement them perfectly and let them shine on stage. It is as witty as the book is and just as magical. As soon as you have left you will want to watch it all over again.
The Woman in Black
If you are not a fan of musicals, or if you are in the mood for something a little more sinister, The Woman in Black is the perfect antidote. A terrifying rendition of Susan Hill’s novel, this production will have you hanging on the edge of your seat and jumping up off your chair every other scene. The story is told through just 2 actors, and the way they can make you believe everything is taking place there and then with a very simple set and few props is staggering. Try not to go to a matinee as they are usually filled with school groups who will all scream and then erupt into laughter immediately afterwards. This can be a bit distracting if you are sat near them.
It’s a master class in the power of theatre to trick our minds into doing and believing all sorts of incredible things and you’ll be checking under the bed and sleeping with the light on for weeks having watched it.
The Mousetrap has broken record after record and is now in its 62nd year of being on the west end, having been performed over 25,000 times. It is a play which was written by Agatha Christie and like all good Christie stories it is famous for the twist in the plot at the end, and all theatre-goers are asked not to reveal the ending once they have left the show. It is a very compelling story which will have you invested from the start. The power of the writing keeps you engaged until the very end as it doesn’t rely on the impressive production techniques that some of the musicals exploit.
It was originally written as a short story but the author asked that it wasn’t published whilst the play was running in London. The play is still running and the story still hasn’t been published in the UK which enables new audiences to continue to be surprised at the end. For those who prefer plays to musicals, The Mousetrap is the perfect show to just enjoy the theatre setting. People can’t have been wrong about how good it is for the last 62 years!
Before you go into the show, you will vow that a wooden puppet could never convince you it was a real horse. When you leave for the interval you will already have eaten your hat. It has now been running for 5 years and continues to astound audiences every time it is performed. The story is heartfelt enough, based on the much celebrated novel by Michael Morpurgo, it tells the story of a horse which is sold to the cavalry and taken to France to fight in the First World War, but the puppetry will have you weeping.
The horse puppets come from a puppet company in South Africa and are operated with such detail, right down to the twitch of an ear to the movement of the legs individually to mimic the different cadences. They are the stars of the show and will easily have you believing that they are living, breathing horses, even if you are not an animal fan. If you are, prepare to leave the theatre with a rather tear-stained face.