Best West End shows, musicals and plays you need to see in London in 2022
Fancy a night out at the theatre? These are the West End shows, musicals and plays you need to see in London this year.
Whether you're a local or in town for a special occasion, a West End show can be a brilliant way to spend an evening. From award-winning musicals to book adaptations, and from re-tellings of iconic stories to limited-time shows, London is jam-packed with entertainment.
But, how do you choose what to see in London? We've considered everything from budget, genres and cast to give you our pick of the best plays, musicals and theatre shows to see. We've got Hamilton for the history buffs, Back to the Future for a dose of nostalgia and we already know Frozen: the West End Musical will be a hit with the kids.
Here are our recommendations for the best West End shows to see in London this year.
- Best West End shows to see in 2022
- How to get cheap West End show tickets
- What time do West End shows start and finish
- What are the best seats in a theatre
Want to try something out of the ordinary? Here’s our pick of the best immersive experiences you should try in London this year, with themes including Stranger Things, Sherlock and Van Gogh, taking place all throughout the summer.
- Six the Musical, from £13
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, from £15
- Get Up, Stand Up!, from £18
- Back to the Future: The Musical, from £19.55
- Good the play, from £20
- The Woman in Black, from £21.50
- Wicked, from £23.50
- The Book of Mormon, from £24
- TINA: The Tina Turner Musical, from £24
- Come From Away, from £24
- Matilda the Musical, from £24
- Hamilton, from £24
- Les Misérables, from £24
- & Juliet, from £24.50
- Upstart Crow, from £28.75
- The Lion King, from £30
- My Neighbour Totoro, from £30
- Dear Evan Hansen, from £30
- Frozen: The West End Musical, from £30
- Heathers the Musical, from £45
Best West End shows to see in London in 2022
Come From Away
This musical tells the extraordinary true story of what happened when 38 planes were diverted and forced to land at Canada's Gander International Airport following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The planes, carrying nearly 7,000 passengers and 19 animals, doubled the population of the small Newfoundland town.
Come From Away serves as a reminder of kindness in the darkest of times as the townspeople quickly sprang into action to comfort, clothe and feed the passengers.
Six the Musical
If you watched the Platinum Jubilee concert, you would have caught a glimpse of this bizarre retelling of the lives of Henry VIII’s six wives. In the musical, each wife takes it in turns to share their story of how they were wronged by the Tudor King, and why that means they should be the lead singer of the wives’ pop group.
Originally debuting at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017, Six is now touring the UK, with performances in Brighton, York, Bristol and more. But don't worry, you can still grab tickets for the West End show from now up until April 2023.
As the winner of the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Hamilton is a brilliant choice if you’re in London this summer and want to treat yourself to a West End show.
A blend of hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B and Broadway is the musical backdrop to this show, which tells the true(ish) story of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers and George Washington’s right-hand man.
Matilda the Musical
Adapted from Roald Dahl’s much-loved book of the same name, Matilda is taking bookings up to May 2023 for the Cambridge Theatre in London. You know exactly what you’re getting with this musical: wholesome, family-friendly fun.
Heathers the Musical
Heathers the Musical is back at The Other Palace until September this year. It’s based on the 1989 cult movie, Heathers, which follows student Veronica as she’s accepted into her high school's popular clique (three girls all named Heather), then gets wrapped up with the rebellious Jason 'J.D' Dean - a teenager who plans to murder everybody at their high school. This is definitely one for a more mature audience.
The Lion King
A story we all know and love! Based on the 1994 Walt Disney movie of the same name, The Lion King musical play features music from Elton John, actors in decadent animal costumes and giant hollow puppets. The show opened in the Lyceum Theatre over 20 years ago in 1999, and is still going strong after more than 7,500 performances.
It’s the top-earning title in box-office history, surpassing The Phantom of the Opera, and even the Royal Family have seen a performance of this much-loved story.
Wicked knows a thing or two about being ‘Popular’! This musical is the prequel to The Wizard of Oz, and it tells the story of Elphaba (the future Wicked Witch of the West) and her friendship with Glinda (the Good Witch of the South). It was nominated for 6 Tony awards, including Best Actress, and, honestly, we went to see the musical with our families, and it’s deserving of every single nomination.
Frozen: The West End Musical
Back in January 2019, the Theatre Royal Drury Lane embarked on an ambitious project to restore its historic theatre to its former 1812 glory. Now, in 2022, it reopened its doors with showings of Disney’s Frozen. The jaw-dropping sets and special effects really make this musical magical as it brings to life the scenery from the film.
Dear Evan Hansen
Dear Evan Hansen is a coming of age musical about teenager Evan who’s struggling with social anxiety and whose therapist encourages him to write letters in an attempt to help his mental health. His letter accidentally falls into the hands of his classmate Connor, who later takes his own life. Upon finding the letter, Connor’s parents mistakenly assume that Evan and their son were best friends, and welcome him into their family. Things get out of hand very quickly (as we're sure you can imagine).
Ticketmaster currently has an offer on that means you can save up to 36% on selected seats. Prices start at just £30 a ticket.
Back to the Future: The Musical
If the hugely enthusiastic description on From The Box Office is anything to go by, Back to the Future - The Musical will be the most electrifying experience of your entire life - possibly more important than, say, childbirth. The musical follows the plot of the blockbuster film: teenager Marty McFly is blasted back in time to the year 1955 by eccentric scientist Doc Brown and unwittingly changes the course of history.
If you've been watching Britain's Got Talent, you might have caught a sneak peek of Back to the Future: The Musical on an episode the other evening. Since it's special appearance, the musical has decided to extend its West End run into 2023, so there's even more opportunity to go and see it.
The Book of Mormon
From the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, comes this comedy musical about two Latter-Day missionaries who are posted to a remote Ugandan village to preach the faith of the Church, and to convert its inhabitants to Mormonism. The locals are uninterested, however, as they face more pressing issues such as famine, HIV/AIDS, FGM, and oppression from their warlord.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a two-part play written by Jack Thorne and based on J.K. Rowling’s original story. It follows Harry, Ron and Hermione 19 years after they saved the wizarding world, and they’re joined by a new generation of wizards and witches to stop mysterious evil forces for another time.
Get Up, Stand Up!
Get Up, Stand Up! is the five star Bob Marley musical. We didn’t know a Bob Marley musical was missing from our lives until now. It follows the life of Bob Marley as he sets out to advocate for justice through his music, and it features his most-loved tracks like ‘No Woman No Cry’, ‘Three Little Birds’ and ‘Could You Be Loved’.
Get Up, Stand Up! tickets are also included in Ticketmaster's current offers so you can get up to 35% off selected seats.
The Woman in Black
A bucket list show from London's West End. We've only ever heard amazing things about this spooky play based on Susan Hill’s 1983 book of the same name. It’s directed by Robin Herford, who directed the original cast in 1987 when the show first took the stage in Scarborough, before opening at The Fortune Theatre in London in 1989.
As the setting is so minimal with few props and scarce sound effects, it creates a chilling atmosphere and your imagination runs wild. You’ll definitely be scared to walk to the loo by yourself afterwards.
What makes West End’s longest-running musical so magical is how immersive it is; with the backdrops of paintings by Victor Hugo, Les Misérables’ author, and the powerful performances from every single member of the cast, you feel like you’re at the heart of the action.
TINA: The Tina Turner Musical
Aldwych Theatre welcomes you to TINA. The musical includes all of Tina Turner's much-loved songs, and follows her journey to stardom, from her humble beginnings in Tennessee to the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll — with her live performances selling more tickets than any other solo artist across the globe. It showcases all the ups and downs along Tina's way, and you'll leave the theatre feeling very motivated.
For a limited time only, GoGroopie is offering TINA: The Tina Turner Musical tickets with a hotel stay, plus breakfast from just £99.
Choose from a three or four-star hotel, and a one or two-night stay in this package deal.
David Mitchell, of Peep Show fame, is returning to the West End as William Shakespeare in the play Upstart Crow. The show originally debuted in February 2020 before Covid-19 forced theatres to shut, and now it's back with a limited run at London's Apollo Theatre. Mitchell is joined by Gemma Whelan, who you'll recognise from the hit TV show Game of Thrones.
My Neighbour Totoro
The world premiere of the stage adaptation of My Neighbour Totoro is coming to London in October. If you've seen the Studio Ghibli film, you'll know that it's wholesome, joyful, family-fun, and we have high hopes that the West End show will live up to our expectations.
It's the greatest love story of all time, with a modern twist. & Juliet reimagines what Juliet's life would've been like if William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet didn't end quite so tragically. This musical comes from the writer of Schitt's Creek, so you can expect a lot of laughter and tons of fun.
Don't miss out on the opportunity to see David Tennant live in the West End, starring in an adaptation of Cecil Philip Taylor's play Good. On the West End from October, the show transports you to World War II as you follow John Halder (played by Tennant), a seemingly 'good' man as he battles between doing the right thing and his desire for a simple life.
The price of a West End theatre show ticket varies depending on where you sit and what you see: limited-run shows, such as Good, will have a higher ticket price as you can only experience it for a few months. Shows like The Lion King have been running for over 20 years (with no sign of slowing down) so those tickets will be cheaper.
With the seating, you'll pay more for a better, unobstructed view, and less for a seat where a pillar could potentially block part of your view of the stage or if you're a long way away. We can't speak for all theatres, but one of our RadioTimes.com team went to see Wicked and bought cheap seats where the view was supposed to be partially obstructed. However, when they got there, the view was amazing just a little far away.
If you're not too bothered about where you sit, we'd recommend picking the cheapest seats to save money.
Similarly, if you'd like to go to a West End show for the experience but you're not concerned about which particular show you see, we've listed the theatre shows in this article from lowest to highest at the top of the page. So be sure to check that out if you haven't already.
Like with the price, this depends entirely on the show, and whether you've got a matinee or evening performance. Most shows run for two hours to two and a half hours, with a 15-minute interval. A 'matinee' performance usually starts at 2:30pm, whereas the evening performances will begin around 7:30pm.
West End show weekend breaks and hotel stays
For those of you travelling to London for a West End show, it makes sense to make a few days of it; especially if you're planning on seeing an evening performance which will have you leaving the theatre at around 10pm (that's almost our bedtime!).
There are also a number of websites, like Holiday Extras, that will allow you to book your theatre tickets and hotel in one go. You can choose which theatre show you'd love to see, then select how many nights you'll stay around your chosen date, and it'll suggest hotels just a stone's throw away from the theatre.
Plus, as it's a package deal — a theatre show and hotel combo — you'll save a couple of quid, too.
What is the easiest way to get to the West End?
Travelling to the West End when you live outside of London can seem like a mean feat. But we're here to reassure you that it can be done with minimal faff and on a budget, too.
Train timetables are usually released 12 weeks in advance, so train operators put cheap train tickets on sale shortly afterwards. The nearer your travel date, the more expensive the train tickets will be, so be sure to snap up tickets as soon as you can.
Railcards are also a great way to save a couple of quid on your travel — 1/3 of the total ticket fare to be precise. Find the right Railcard for you at Trainline.
If you live too far away from London to comfortably travel there and back in one day, and let's face it, a lot of us do, you may want to consider an overnight stay.
Airbnb offers private rooms and entire homes all across London, so you're bound to find somewhere that tickles your fancy and fits your budget.
If money is no object, you might as well spend a bit more to get closer to the action at a West End show. However, with all the different parts of the auditorium, it can be tricky to know where to select seats which guarantee the best viewing experience; so we've done the difficult work for you. Here is the breakdown of all the seats in a theatre, and where to sit for maximum viewing enhancement.
The Stalls are often considered the best seats in the house as they're on the ground floor closest to the stage. In a lot of West End theatres, there will be rows and rows of ground floor seats, so you can choose to be on the front row, somewhere in the middle, or right at the back; the closer you are to the stage, the pricier your seats will be.
The Dress Circle, sometimes referred to as the Royal Circle, is the next level up from the ground floor. The Dress Circle gives audience members an advantage as they can see what's happening across the whole stage — something that people in the stalls might not be able to do, particularly for props or characters at the back of the stage.
Next up is the Upper Circle, also called the Grand Circle. This is another level up again and will be one of the cheaper theatre tickets available (unless the theatre has a Gallery/Balcony which not many of them do). You'll be able to see everything going on on stage, however, you may miss finer details, such as an actor's facial expression.
The cheapest seats in the house: Restricted View. All theatres will sell tickets for what they deem is a 'restricted view'. However, as we mentioned earlier, one of our RadioTimes.com team went to see Wicked with their mum, and the supposedly 'restricted' view was anything but. We can't guarantee this will be the case in all theatres, though, and you may find your view restricted by a safety rail or a pillar.
Sitting in a box is an excellent way to make your trip to the theatre even more memorable. Typically located on the same level as the Dress Circle, a box can be hired out for just you and your party, which means you get perks like strangers not squeezing past you to go to the loo during a dramatic moment.