All The London Musicals Currently Playing, Ranked | The Nudge London

All The London Musicals, Ranked

All The London Musicals, Ranked

All The London Musicals, Ranked

Last Updated: 24th January 2020 | Main image: Hamilton

Ever since jazz hands were (presumably) invented by a theatre director taking the request for ‘a show of hands’ too literally, musicals have delighted the masses with their bright lights, catchy numbers, and miraculous moments where apparent passers-by have spontaneously burst into song and dance.

London’s West End is renowned for its musicals; from classics that have run in the same theatre for decades, to new writing and fringe productions that have won such universal acclaim that they’ve scored themselves a transfer. So to help you decide what’s worth the ticket, we’ve duly sorted the wheat from the cha-cha-chaff and ranked every musical that’s currently playing in the West End by storyline, production value, and the general critical reception.

So sit back, and enjoy the show.

Hamilton | Victoria Palace Theatre, London

Hamilton London musicals

Unless you’ve been living under a particularly well-soundproofed rock for the past few months, you’ll no doubt be vaguely aware that the biggest musical theatre event to drop this century has come to London.

And the cast are ready to Rise Up to the challenge.

Following the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton, it’s a revolutionary musical that raps its way through history, and quickly earned a record-breaking 13 Olivier nominations for its troubles…

Story: 10/10
Production: 10/10
Critics say: The Guardian 5*; The Telegraph 5*; The Independent 5*; The Stage 5*; The Evening Standard 5*
DetailsHamilton is booking at the Victoria Palace Theatre until 20th June 2020. Tickets start at £20 – book HERE.

The Book of Mormon | Prince of Wales Theatre

Written by the pair behind South Park, The Book of Mormon is an (unsurprisingly) irreverent parody of Mormonism, following two missionaries sent to Uganda to spread the word, where they find the locals are more concerned with pressing issues like AIDS and oppression by village warlords. Painfully funny, it’s received unanimous praise across the board – even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have advertised in the theatre programmes.

Story: 9/10
Production: 10/10
Critics say: Evening Standard 5*; 9 Tony Awards
Details: The Book of Mormon is booking at the Prince of Wales Theatre until 10th April 2020. Tickets cost from £25, or try entering their daily lottery – find out more HERE.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie | Apollo Theatre

Everybody's Talking About Jamie London Musicals

This title could have been reaaally embarrassing if the show hadn’t taken off. Luckily, London theatre critics are going mad for it, with bountiful comparisons to ‘a Billy Elliot for the millennial age’. Following the true story of a 16 year old drag queen determined to wear a dress to prom, the show boasts an uplifting storyline, impressive performances, and songs from The Feeling singer, Dan Gillespie Sells.

Story: 9/10
Production: 9/10
Critics say: The Times 5*; The Stage 5*; The Independent 5*; Financial Times 5*
Details: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is booking at the Apollo Theatre (closest tube station Piccadilly Circus) until 29th August 2020. Tickets cost from £20 and can be purchased HERE.

Matilda The Musical | Cambridge Theatre

A show in which a genius-level child with telekinetic powers somehow starts off as an underdog, this long-running musical take on the classic Roald Dahl tale – produced by theatre nobility, the RSC – has had critics positively raving. And with good reason too – with lyrics by the inimitable Tim Minchin, ridiculously catchy tunes and a genuinely exceptional cast of kids, there’s not a single hole in this colourful patchwork of song and dance.

Story: 9/10
Production: 9/10
Critics say: The Telegraph 5*; The Guardian 5*; The Evening Standard 5*; The Independent 5*
Details: Matilda The Musical is booking at the Cambridge Theatre until 20th December 2020. Tickets cost from £20 – book HERE.

SIX | Arts Theatre London

Six The Musical - London theatre guide

Divorced, beheaded, live in concert: it’s the story of Henry VIIIth’s six wives, performed by the queens themselves as a punk girl-band. After sell-out runs in Edinburgh and London, and rapturous reviews, it’s back for a year-long run. Expect neon ruffs; Greensleeves-techno mash ups and unexpected moments of vulnerability interspersed with its high-energy score.

Story: 9/10
Production: 9/10
London Theatre Critics say: Evening Standard 5*; The Times 4*; The Telegraph 4*
Details: Six is booking at the Arts Theatre until 31st January 2021. Tickets cost from £8 and can be purchased HERE.

Les Misérables | Sondheim Theatre (formerly Queen’s)

Do you hear the people sing? Well, you will if you head to Les Mis, an iconic musical based on Victor Hugo’s gloomy revolutionary novel that’s now in its 4th decade. It closed for the first time in 34 years last summer while the theatre got some upgrades – but now it’s back, flying the flag once more with a critically acclaimed new production.

Story: 9/10
Production: 9/10
Critics say: The Guardian 5*; The Telegraph 5*; Evening Standard 4*
Details: Les Mis is booking at the Sondheim Theatre until 17th October 2020. Tickets start at £27.50 – book HERE.

Disney’s The Lion King | Lyceum Theatre

It’s Hamlet. With lions. What’s not to love? The Lion King is an epic retelling of the film, with impressive sets, stunning choreography and amazing costumes – the giraffes, for example, are played by actors stalking the stage on both leg and arm stilts. All this has seen the show play to packed houses for over two decades in London, and makes it the highest-grossing stage show of all time.

Story: 8/10
Production: 10/10
Critics say: Evening Standard 5*
Details: The Lion King is booking at the Lyceum until 31st January 2020. Tickets cost from £20 – book HERE.

Wicked | Apollo Victoria

Wicked London Musicals

The musical that spawned a dozen karaoke songs, Wicked is written as the prequel to The Wizard of Oz. It tells the story of the misunderstood Wicked Witch of the West, a.k.a. Elphaba, who’s an outcast from a young age because of her bright green skin. Penchant for flying monkey minions aside, it turns out that she’s simply misunderstood – and the musical turns everything on its head with soaring numbers from the Pocahontas composer, Stephen Schwartz, and glittering costumes.

Story: 8/10
Production: 9/10
Critics say: The Sunday Telegraph 5*; WhatsOnStage 5*
Details: Wicked is booking until 28th November 2020 at the Apollo Victoria. Tickets start at £22 – book HERE.

Come From Away | Phoenix Theatre

Come From Away isn’t your typical musical. There’s no dazzling lights, or flashy set. The cast are probably less dressed up than the audience. Oh, and the whole toe-tapping, feel-good, soul-lifting story… is about 9/11. Set in the Canadian town of Gander, which hosted 7,000 diverted air passengers in the wake of the attacks, it’s a rousing paean to community spirit and compassion, interlaced with a folk-rock score – and its been lavished with 4 Olivier Awards.

Story: 8/10
Production: 8/10
Critics say: The Times 5*; The Evening Standard 4*; Financial Times 4*
Details: Come From Away is booking at the Phoenix Theatre until 23rd May 2020. Tickets cost from £20 – book HERE.

Waitress | Adelphi Theatre

Waitress London Musicals

Johan Persson

There was a lot of hype surrounding this musical across the pond. But don’t worry, it delivers. Songs are written by Sara Bareilles (Love Song, Gravity) to tell the story of a waitress in a dead-end job with an unappreciative husband, who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant and having an affair with her married gynaecologist. It’s heartwarming, funny, and has actual baking smells pumped into the theatre for authenticity.

Story: 8/10
Production: 8/10
Critics say: The Times 5*; Evening Standard 4*; The Stage 4*
Details: Waitress runs at the Adelphi Theatre until 4th July 2020 before going on tour. Tickets cost from £19.50 and can be booked HERE.

The Phantom of the Opera | Her Majesty’s Theatre

Phantom London Musicals

Staying at Her Majesty’s Pleasure for over 30 years isn’t generally something to boast about. Staying at Her Majesty’s Theatre, however, is quite a feat – and this classic Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical has been going strong here since 1986. Winner of over 70 theatre awards, it’s based on a Gaston Leroux book about a disfigured musical genius who lives beneath the Paris opera house and becomes obsessed with a gifted soprano. So if that sounds like something you’d be on board with, you’ll probably enjoy it.

Story: 7/10
Production: 8/10
Critics say: It’s been going so long it hasn’t technically been reviewed in ages, but that’s got to be a good sign.
Details: The Phantom of the Opera runs at Her Majesty’s Theatre pretty much indefinitely. Tickets cost from £25 – book HERE.

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical | The Lyric

Considering this show is literally completely different every single night, it’s hard to cast judgement. That said, we’ve attended on numerous occasions and it always hits the mark – a talented cast effortlessly string together suggestions from the audience each night to create a surprisingly coherent storyline, with improvised music from an equally talented live band.
Story: ??/10
Production: 7/10 – not as showy as a set production, but impressive for what they’re working with.
Critics say: The Telegraph 5*; Evening Standard 4*; The Stage 4*
Details: Showstopper! The Improvised Musical has regular shows at The Lyric until 20th April 2020. Tickets cost from £15 and can be purchased HERE.

School of Rock | Gillian Lynne Theatre

School of Rock London Musicals

Are you ready to rock (after double maths)? This Lloyd Webber version of the Jack Black film has been generally well-received (“I rocked!” says Jack Black) and has plenty of toe-tapping numbers. Like Matilda, it’s carried by a very talented cast of kids, led by a performance that’s just right by David Finn.

Story: 7/10
Critics say: The Sunday Times 5*; The Telegraph 5*; Evening Standard 4*
Details: School of Rock is booking at the Gillian Lynne Theatre until 29th February 2020. Tickets start at £15 – book HERE.

Mary Poppins | Prince Edward Theatre

Always knowing when she’s needed, Mary Poppins has flown into town. A sugar-dusted production with dazzling costumes, impressive dance sequences and a glorious soundtrack (obviously), this musical’s exactly what’s required when the general atmosphere around the country is – shall we say – gloomy.

Story: 7/10
Production: 8/10
London Theatre Critics say: The Guardian 5*; The Telegraph 5*; Evening Standard 4*
Details: Mary Poppins is booking at the Prince Edward Theatre until 26th July 2020. Tickets start at £22.50 – book HERE.

Tina: The Tina Turner Musical | Aldwych Theatre

When it comes to biographical pop medley musicals, this one’s simply the best. Obviously the songs make for a firecracker of a soundtrack, but they’re combined in a way that makes a surprisingly coherent storyline (unlike many other jukebox musicals). Tina herself has called it an important way to share her story – not just the success, but the journey it took to get there.

Story: 7/10
Production: 7/10
Critics say: The Guardian 4*; The Stage 4*
Details: Tina is booking at the Aldwych Theatre until 27th June 2020. Tickets start at £10 – book HERE.

9 to 5 the Musical | Savoy Theatre

9 to 5 London Musicals

All the actors in this musical have given up their day jobs… to work a 9 to 5. Based on the 80s film with a Dolly Parton soundtrack, it follows the story of three colleagues who plot to teach their sexist boss a lesson by kidnapping him and trussing him up in bondage gear. Its feminist ambition undercut by Carry On-style schtick has split the critics, but one thing they all agree on is the impressive performance by Bonnie Langford, busting out the splits at the age of 54.

Story: 5/10
Production: 7/10
Critics say: London Theatre 4*; The Guardian 3*; Evening Standard 2*
Details: 9 to 5 is booking at the Savoy Theatre until 23rd May 2020. Tickets start at £27.50 – book HERE.

Mamma Mia | Novello Theatre

20 years on, Mamma Mia still hasn’t met its Waterloo. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s a pretty contrived plot (soon-to-be-married daughter invites three potential fathers to her mother’s hotel on a Greek island, etc) but the ABBA songs are, of course, excellent, and extremely catchy.

Story: 5/10
Production: 7/10
Critics say: Evening Standard 5*
Details: Mamma Mia is booking at the Novello Theatre until 19th September 2020. Tickets start at £27.25 and can be booked HERE.

Want to see what else is on in the West End? Check out our guide to the critics’ top London theatre shows playing now

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