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Lyric Theatre

  • Theatre
  • Shaftesbury Avenue
Lyric Theatre, Thriller Live

Time Out says

Michael Jackson fans get their thrills at this historic West End theatre

Today, Lyric Theatre is the home of 'Thriller Live', the Michael Jackson jukebox musical that's been getting fans moonwalking with delight since 2009. But behind the '80s tastic hoardings, this theatre has a history that stretches back centuries.

The theatre's facade doesn't have the grand neoclassical stylings or Victorian gothic flourishes of most of its West End neighbours, for a very good reason: it's actually built inside the remnants of an old house. Dr William Hunter was an anatomist, and collector of horrible-but-probably-scientifically-important things in jars whose 1776 residence acted both as his home and as a medical museum. These days, his collection can be seen at the Hunterian Museum, because in 1886, the interior of his former house was gutted and fitted out with state-of-the-art Victorian theatre which regaled audiences with the lighter kind of musical comedies. 

The Lyric Theatre relied on then-cutting-edge hydraulic technology, using water from the River Thames to power its lifts and backstage machinery. Today, it still raises its curtain using hydraulic power, in an auditorium that retains much of its original 19th century sumptuousness. There are 915 seats on four levels, supported by golden columns and topped off by a grand ceiling with a central chandelier.

Before the success of 'Thriller Live', some of the Lyric Theatre's most successful shows include the original West End production of 'Blood Brothers', the jukebox show 'Five Guys Named Mo', and 'How the Other Half Loves', the 1969 adultery comedy that made playwright Alan Ayckbourn's name. 


Shaftesbury Avenue
Tube: Piccadilly Circus
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‘2:22 – A Ghost Story’ review

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Drama

Danny Robins’s ‘2:22’ is a bona fide West End phenomenon. It started life in the summer of 2021 as a novelty: a four-hander ghost story from the writer of the hit podcast series ‘The Battersea Poltergeist’, deployed to plug the programming gap at the Noël Coward Theatre while the musical ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ was waiting to come back post-pandemic. And Matthew Dunster’s production originally starred singer Lily Allen – an unexpected bit of casting, but not an outlandish one, given she sincerely seems to be making a move into acting. That was just the beginning, though. Since then it’s played another four West End seasons, and while I’m sure good word of mouth and the scarcity of supernatural Theatreland thrillers have played a part, it’s pretty clear that its audience has been expanded via the medium of increasingly wild casting. Last year we had stage debuts from Tom Felton – aka Harry Potter’s Draco Malfoy – and Laura ‘Love Island’ Whitmore. And this year we’re being treated to the inaugural acting performance from Cheryl, the erstwhile Girls Aloud star who seems to have left the concept of a surname somewhere in the rubble of her endlessly documented recent past.  It’s a fascinating concept: presumably if the producers can keep luring in big names with discrete fandoms, there’s no real reason it can’t carry on more or less indefinitely. The four roles in the play are about the same size as each other: it’s malleable enough that you could find a space to cast pretty much anyon

The Smeds and The Smoos

  • Children's

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler recent picturebook about a pair of feuding tribes of quirky aliens who must put their differences aside when two of their youngsters elope together returns to the Rose Theatre for the Easter holidays then flies off to the West End for the summer. It’s adapted by Tall Stories, whose theatrical take on ‘The Gruffalo’ has been a touring staple for aeons. Ages three-plus.

Aspects of Love

  • Musicals

A modest hit at the tail end of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s blockbuster ’80s, the original West End run starred a young Michael Ball, who returns in a new production – and presumably a different role – that’s directed by sturdy hitmaker Jonathan Kent. With lyrics by Don Black and Charles Hart, the 1989 musical basically concerned the convoluted romantic entanglements of a group of friends and lovers, and though never particularly loved at scale, has been frequently revived as a more intimate ‘chamber musical’. We’re promised this version is ‘reimagined for the twenty-first century’, which could frankly mean a lot of things: it might simply be an indication that this too will be an intimate production, or it may allude to tweaks to the book and songs – in particular some of the original’s coy queer undertones could stand to be brought out a bit more boldly. We’ll find out in May. Ball will not perform on Mondays.

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