I don’t usually go to the theatre…What do I see?
You may know people who are new to London or who, by being young or through a sudden interest in the theatre, have not yet delved into the many venues and productions which have made their mark on the city.
Because it helps to plan ahead, Shows in London wants to give you, and them, a few tips and hints for the busiest shows in town, in a bespoke guide to London Theatreland.
Movie fans become musical experts
Today’s cultural experiences are best shared, whether it’s television programmes, film moments or pop music that worms its way into public consciousness. Some of the original creations have been adapted for the stage, and have drawn millions of people there. Those who are new to theatre can hear from old friends from the plushness of a West End seat in an opulent setting.
Movie-lovers can take a screen break and see characters come alive, whether they are a knight, a singer or a green ogre. Shrek’s cast of fairytale characters, chatty donkeys and princesses have become successful stage stars in a comic love story with a super soundtrack at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Billy Elliot, about the boy from the mining town with balletic feet, is a show with songs by Sir Elton John and the film’s message of following dreams in the face of adversity.
Spamalot is a fun show based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with cow-throwing Frenchmen, armless Black Knights and a singalong to the film’s signature song that makes audiences Always Look On the Bright Side of Life. The newly-opened The Bodyguard keeps alive the gospel-pop voice of Whitney Houston, adding much to the story of the 1992 movie which may have been her finest moment.
See how your favourite film has become a whole new beast on the London stage!
Old hits, new productions
In the same manner, ‘jukebox musicals’ have sprung up to enable audiences to experience the hits of their favourite groups in ways they had never imagined before. The songs of The Spice Girls form the soundtrack to Viva Forever at the Piccadilly Theatre, in a story about talent and dreams; Let It Be delivers the songs of The Beatles one after the other in an audio-visual delight, and transfers from the Prince of Wales to the Savoy Theatre in 2013; Thriller Live! does the same to tunes by Michael Jackson, with added moonwalking, and plays at the Lyric Theatre.
Fans of kitsch 1970s performers have been entertained for over a decade by two popular productions which use the songs of Queen and ABBA to drive their plots forward. We Will Rock You is set in a dystopian future, and the plot Mamma Mia takes place on a Greek island, but the stories can sometimes seem incidental when you hear Radio Gaga or Dancing Queen sung by a cast who project their voices while dancing around pyrotechnics.
Music fans who don’t often head to the theatre should consider any of these shows if they want a change from the moshpits or iPods.
The veteran shows
There are several winning shows which by nature of their longevity have achieved immortal status. The longest-running play in the West End, currently on at the St Martin’s Theatre, is The Mousetrap. Into its seventh decade, the story is full of mystery characteristic of the story’s author, Agatha Christie, and maintains its enigmatic nature by ordering its audience not to give away the ending. For a serious fright, it’s worth considering The Mousetrap, though The Woman in Black rivals it for suspense and an uneasy atmosphere. Scaring theatre-goers since 1990, the play shows how a stage, its characters and a story can put an audience on the very edge of their seats. Head to the Fortune Theatre if you dare!
A third long-runner, which like The Woman in Black has been turned into a big motion picture, is Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theatre. Very few pieces of literature from the 1800s remain significant in the culture of 2013, but thanks to showstopping anthems like Bring Him Home and I Dreamed a Dream the play and its heroes speak to audiences young and old. Love, valour and poverty are all explored in a production which ensures a standing ovation, and converts punters to the joys of musical theatre.
Book with Shows in London
Without launching straight away into a tough piece of Chekhov or a contemporary adaptation of a Shakespeare play, all these shows give new theatre fans the chance to catch the bug of visiting a place of worldwide renown.
Shows in London offers affordable tickets for each of these shows, so book one today and introduce someone to the power of shows in London!