Best West End shows, musicals and plays you need to see in London
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 is 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 Disney's Frozen The Musical will be a hit with the kids. There's also limited-time only shows, such as Plaza Suite and Hello, Dolly!.
Plus, you can count on the RadioTimes.com team to select the top theatre shows to see. Our Going Out section is packed full of exciting things to do in London, from escape rooms and immersive experiences, to walking tours and experience gifts. So, if there's something new going on in the Big Smoke, we'll share it with you.
We even have recommendations for more timely activities, too. Whether you're in the capital for a family weekend with the kids, you're looking for a fun day out with friends or hoping to expand your cultural horizons, we've got you covered; we've got guides on everything from the Balloon Museum to the best immersive experiences in London.
The RadioTimes.com team also like to experience the plays we recommend, and you can read what we thought of various theatre productions in our Enemy of the People review and our Witness for the Prosecution review. Plus, we've put together a series of theatre guides so check out what's on at the Harold Pinter Theatre and what's on at the Savoy Theatre.
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Without further ado, here are the best West End shows to see in London this year.
- Best West End shows and musicals in London at a glance
- Best West End shows to see in 2024
- What time do West End shows start and finish
- What are the best seats in a theatre
- Can you get theatre gift vouchers for London?
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 events including Frameless taking place all throughout the upcoming months.
Like everything at the moment, the price of seeing a show is going up. However, the RadioTimes.com team specialises in helping you do the things you love for less, so we've written a guide for how to get cheap theatre tickets and the best London Theatre Week deals to make sure you're get the best tickets for your money.
Best West End shows for families
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, from £15.75
- Matilda the Musical, from £20
- Frozen: The West End Musical, from £29.50
- The Lion King, from £35
Most popular West End shows
- The Book of Mormon, from £22
- Hamilton, from £25
- Wicked, from £27.50
- Phantom of the Opera, from £31
- Les Misérables, from £31
Best London musicals
Last minute theatre tickets for London tonight
- TINA: The Tina Turner Musical, from £13
- Stranger Things: The First Shadow, from £30
- Six the Musical, from £39
- Witness for the Prosecution, from £19
Limited time only West End shows
- The Merchant of Venice 1936, from £22
- Hello, Dolly!, from £23
- The Unfriend, from £34
- Operation Mincemeat, from £39.50
- Plaza Suite, from £109.50
- For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy, from £19
- An Enemy of the People, from £20
Cabaret is currently showing at the Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse in London's West End. A night at Cabaret promises to be an experience as well as a night out — guests are invited to immerse themselves in the club experience and can even drink and dine before diving into the world of inhibition-free Berlin.
The musical, which stars Rebecca Lucy Taylor as Sally Bowles and Jake Shears as Emcee, has won seven Olivier Awards and is currently booking until February 2025.
Cara Delevingne will soon be heading up this production as Sally Bowles in a limited 12-week run— don't miss out.
If you're a comedy fan — or maybe you just need a bit of a pick-me-up — be sure to take a look at the best London comedy shows.
Husband and wife duo Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick are starring in the West End debut of Plaza Suite: a play which follows three couples (all played by Parker and Broderick) in one hotel room. The award-winning actors will take on the roles of a couple about to celebrate their anniversary, a movie producer and his former high school girlfriend, who is now married, as well as the parents of a nervous bride-to-be on her wedding day.
Plaza Suite is performing at the Savoy Theatre for a limited time only — from 15th January until the 13th April 2024 — and you can buy tickets from now.
Theatre fans will be aware that The Woman in Black ended its 33-year stint on the West End last year; the terrifying play was performed at the Fortune Theatre in the heart of London's West End, and filling the boots of The Woman in Black is Operation Mincemeat. This sharp-witted comedy tells the real-life story of a WWII operation, and answers the question: how did a well-dressed corpse wrong-foot Hitler? If you're thinking that this musical sounds extremely bizarre, you'd be absolutely right.
A favourite of several members of the RadioTimes.com team, this musical is sure to have you humming its soundtrack for the weeks, months and maybe even years after heading to see it. God That's Brilliant.
If you love socialising but dislike how noisy it can be sometimes, take a look at our guide on how do Loop Earplugs work?
The Merchant of Venice 1936
Coming to London's West End directly from the Royal Shakespeare Company is The Merchant of Venice 1936, starring Tracy-Ann Oberman, which will be performing for a very limited time only run, from 15th February until 23rd March 2024.
If you're not familiar with the story of The Merchant of Venice 1936, Shakespeare's tale is set against a background of political unrest, and you should expect power, ambition, and even revenge.
The Unfriend is returning to the West End after its sold-out run at The Chichester Festival Theatre and its critically-acclaimed performances at The Criterion. The play stars Lee Mack, Frances Barber, and Sarah Alexander, and it follows the story of couple Pete and Debbie as they meet widow Elsa on holiday. The trio agree to keep in touch, and Elsa invites herself to stay with the couple a few months later, sounds sweet, right? Wrong. The play turns into a game of cat and mouse, and there's murder on the cards, too.
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 Manchester, Oxford, Glasgow and more.
An Enemy of the People
Good news for theatre lovers: An Enemy of the People has extended its run until 13th April, giving you extra opportunities to catch Matt Smith in the starring role.
This 1882 play was written by Norwegian master playwright Henrik Ibsen and has been reimagined by German director Thomas Ostermeier. We loved it so much that we gave it a five-star review – you can catch it at the Duke of York theatre.
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 winter 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.
Want to experience the music from your favourite shows in a different light? Check out our guide to the best candlelight concerts around the UK.
Matilda the Musical
Adapted from Roald Dahl’s much-loved book of the same name, Matilda is taking bookings up to May 2025 for the Cambridge Theatre in London. You know exactly what you’re getting with this musical: wholesome, family-friendly fun.
There are also a handful of RSC £10 tickets available for 16-25 year olds, supported by TikTok.
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 six Tony awards, including Best Actress, and, honestly, we went to see the musical with our families, and it’s deserving of every single nomination.
A Wicked UK tour is coming to a city near you! Read out article for everything you need to know, including how to bag tickets.
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. Last year 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.
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 a truly electrifying experience. 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 watched Britain's Got Talent in 2022, you might have caught a sneak peek of Back to the Future: The Musical on Britain's Got Talent. Since its special appearance, the musical has kept extending its West End run so there's even more opportunities 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.
It's all-singing, all-dancing and very much tongue-in-cheek, as you'd expect from the creators of South Park. Book tickets today – after all, Tomorrow Is A Latter Day.
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.
Les Misérables is a musical that needs no introduction. 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.
BAFTA award-winning actress Imelda Staunton will be taking on the titular role of Dolly Levi in the West End premiere of the Hello, Dolly! musical. This London theatre show follows Dolly as she travels to Yonkers in New York to find a match for ‘half-a-millionaire’ Horace Vandergelder. However, while she's there, Dolly decides that the next match she makes shouldn't be for just anyone, it should be for herself.
Hello, Dolly! is showing for a limited time only — from Saturday 6th July to Saturday 14th September 2024 — at The London Palladium.
For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy
With a strictly limited nine week run, For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy is an unmissable play – so don't let it pass you by.
Ryan Calais Cameron's play follows six young black men speaking in a group therapy session and explores the complicated theme of what it means to be a black man in Britain.
Characters talk about everything, from love and fashion to societal pressure and police harassment. You can witness their revelations at the Garrick Theatre from 29th February until 4th May 2024. 25 per cent of all tickets go on sale for £25 or under, making this Olivier-nominated play accessible for people of all budgets.
TINA: The Tina Turner Musical
Aldwych Theatre welcomes you to TINA. The musical includes all of the late great 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.
Witness for the Prosecution
Who doesn't love a good murder mystery? The genre has really made a comeback in recent years, especially with the likes of Richard Osman's The Thursday Murder Club books, and there's no better introduction to the genre than the queen of crime herself, Agatha Christie.
Trust us, the tale of Leonard Vole, accused of murdering a widow in cold blood, is sure to keep you guessing right up until the end. Want to find out more? Check out our five star Witness for the Prosecution review.
Phantom of the Opera
It's one of the most popular theatre shows and one of the West End's most enduring love stories. Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera has been performing for over 30 years now, and shows no sign of slowing down.
If you aren't already familiar with the compelling plot, the show tells the story of the Phantom, who seeks to control the Paris Opera House. He finds a new student, a chorus girl called Christine, and trains her to sing the music of the night.
Stranger Things: The First Shadow
We're huge Stranger Things fans here at RadioTimes.com, so trust us when we say this production is a must-see for any fans of the series. The play acts as a prequel to the series, and is filled with the same friendship and nostalgia that fans are familiar with from the screen.
One of our RadioTimes.com Digital Writers went to see this jukebox musical with their mum and sister, and the whole family loved it! They particularly liked that everyone got up out of their seats for the final song to sing and dance along.
Moulin Rouge follows the story of Christian, a young writer who meets and falls in love with cabaret dancer, Satine. The duo unfortunately can't be together, and this musical shows their love story filled with joy, heartbreak and despair.
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
If you're travelling to London for a West End show, it makes sense to spend a few days in the city; especially if you're planning on seeing an evening performance which will have you leaving the theatre at around 10pm (that's our bedtime!).
There are a number of websites, like Holiday Extras, where you can 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, and 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 possible.
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 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's the breakdown of all the seats in a theatre, and where to sit for maximum viewing enhancement.
The Stalls are considered the best seats in the house as they're on the ground floor and 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 Balcony which not many of them do). You'll be able to see everything on the stage, however, you may miss finer details, such as an actor's facial expression.
The cheapest seats in the house are Restricted View. All theatres will sell tickets for what they deem 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 obstructed 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.
With Christmas just around the corner, you might be wondering what could be the perfect gift for your theatre-loving friend or family member. The obvious choice is to buy them theatre tickets, but with people's jam-packed schedules and with so many plays and musicals with a whole-host of genres to choose from, buying specific theatre tickets for a specific date might not be the easiest idea.
That's where a London theatre gift voucher comes in! Theatre gift cards are a great present idea for a loved one as you can use them on a range of theatre shows, such as Disney’s The Lion King, Cabaret, Wicked, and Moulin Rouge. The West End theatre gift cards are flexible, too, as a lot of them can be redeemed for up to 12-months from the time of purchasing.
So where can you buy these brilliant vouchers from? A lot of UK ticketing companies sell them, and to make matters simple, the Going Out team have put together a list for you below — you're welcome.
- Buy a West End gift voucher at LOVEtheatre
- Buy a theatre voucher at ATG Tickets
- Buy a London gift card at Fever
- Buy a theatre gift card at London Theatre Direct
- Buy a theatre gift experience at Virgin Experience Days
This next deal is perhaps out of a lot of people's budgets, however, despite the extravagant price tag, it does actually save you money in the long run. TodayTix is offering theatre lovers a ticket to every single show in the 2024 theatrical season with its All You Can Seat package. With All You Can Seat, you'll receive access to premium Band A tickets to all West End shows, and a personal concierge to assist with planning and booking. There are just 10 All You Can Seat tickets, and the packages are priced at £10,000.