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The top ten London musicals on and off the West End

From blockbuster West End shows to the odd plucky upstart from off-West End – they all have a place on our list of the best musicals currently on in London

By Time Out editors

From classic blockbusters like ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ that have been running for decades, to modern masterpieces like ‘Hamilton’ and ‘Matilda’, London‘s West End is right up there with Broadway as the best place in the world to see a musical theatre show. But which one to see? Here's our choice of the best musical theatre shows in Theatreland right now (plus the odd off-West End gem).

4. Wicked

4 out of 5 stars
Theatre West End Apollo Victoria, Victoria

The film world continues its love affair with werewolves, vampires and all things 'Twilight'. But theatre types have always known witches are where it's at. In its sixth year at the Apollo Victoria, Oz prequel 'Wicked' continues to fill this massive theatre with an international crowd of voracious consumers (glass of champagne and a choccy for £16 anyone?). But this stylish and bombastic musical still delivers, sailing over its patchy score thanks to a gravity-defying performance from its intense green-skinned undergrad who goes on to become the Wicked Witch of the West.

3. The Phantom of the Opera

4 out of 5 stars
Theatre Musicals

I’m not sure any show ‘deserves’ to be the most successful entertainment event of all time, but I’ll hand it current holder of that title, ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ – it still works hard for its audience. Sure, chunks of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s opus have never left 1986. But whereas describing a musical as ‘stuck in the ’80s’ is usually shorthand for cheap, thin synth orchestration, nothing could be further from the truth here: the portentously swirling keyboards and crunch of hair metal guitar that powers ‘Phantom’s title song have a black hole-like immensity, sucking you in with sheer juggernaut bombast.


2. The Book of Mormon

4 out of 5 stars
Theatre West End

Brace yourself for a shock: ‘South Park’ creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Broadway-munching musical is not particularly shocking. Sure, there are ‘fucks’ and ‘cunts’ and gags about baby rape – but beneath it all, this is a big-hearted affair that pays note-perfect homage to the spirit of Broadway’s golden age as much as the sounds. The strapping young Latter Day Saints missionaries in ‘The Book of Mormon’ are as cartoonish as any ‘South Park’ character, with the endearing alpha-male woodenness of the ‘Team America’ puppets.

1. Matilda the Musical

4 out of 5 stars
Theatre Musicals Cambridge Theatre, Seven Dials

'My mummy says I'm a miracle,' lisps a pampered mini-me at a purgatorial kiddies' birthday party at the outset of this delicious, treacly-dark family show. The obnoxious ma and pa of its titular, gifted, pint-sized heroine are not, of course, quite so doting. But 'Matilda' must be making its creators, playwright Dennis Kelly and comedian-songsmith Tim Minchin, a very pair of proud parents.


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