Summer 2012: What's on in the West End during the Olympics
By Editorial Staff
• 18 Jul 2012
The West End will (mostly) be open for business as usual during the upcoming Olympics, and whether you're a sports fan looking for an evening out or a theatre nut keen for distraction, we can guarantee there's something for you.
Despite initial concerns about the effect the Games would have on West End box offices, the outlook is now much more rosy. A recent survey by OnePoll found that 2.4 million Olympic ticketholders had already bought tickets to a concert, musical, exhibition or play, while a further 1.7 million said they hoped to take in a concert in the capital but had yet to purchase tickets.
So if you're still scratching your head for ideas, here's our run down of shows that are on in the West End during the Olympics, including performance days and times.
Mike Leigh's legendary 1970s comedy Abigail's Party has returned triumphantly to the stage in this critically acclaimed production starring Whatsonstage.com and Olivier Award winner Jill Halfpenny. Performances are Mon-Sat 7.45pm, Thurs and Sat at 3pm at Wyndham's Theatre.
Billy Elliot the Musical is an inspirational story of one boy's dream to realise his ambitions against the odds. Set in a Northern mining town during the historic 1984/85 miners' strike, young Billy Elliot pursues his passion for dance in secret to avoid disapproval of his struggling family. Billy Elliot London won four Laurence Olivier Awards as well as our own Whatsonstage.com Award for Best Musical. Performances are Mon-Sat 7.30pm, Thurs and Sat 2.30pm at the Victoria Palace Theatre.
Willy Russell's award-winning musical tale of Liverpudlian twins separated at birth. The incredible score of Blood Brothers includes Bright New Day, Marilyn Monroe and the emotionally charged hit Tell Me It's Not True. Performances are Mon-Sat 7.45pm, Thurs 3pm, Sat 4pm at the Phoenix Theatre
We travel back in time to the 1924 Olympics with Mike Bartlett's acclaimed new stage adaptation of the inspirational Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire, directed by Edward Hall. Performances are Mon-Sat 7.45pm, Weds and Sat 3pm at the Gielgud Theatre.
The kiss-and-tell story of ambitious chorus girl Roxie Hart who is in prison for murdering her lover and trying to pin it on her hapless husband Amos. Very topical in our celebrity-seeking times, Chicago also provides some of the most sensational roles in all musical theatre with songs including All That Jazz, Razzle Dazzle, Class and All I Care About. One of your last chances to see this West End stalwart, catch Chicago at the Garrick Theatre until 1 September. Performances are Mon-Thurs 8pm, Fri 5pm, 8.30pm, Sat 3pm, 8pm.
Inspired by the albums, Dreamboats and Petticoats will give you the greatest time of your life - taking you back to a time when each passing week brought another classic track. Dreamboats and Petticoats features classic tracks from Eddie Cochran, Billy Fury, Roy Orbison, and The Shadows with song including Let's Dance, To Know Him Is To Love Him, Shaking All Over, Bobby's Girl, Three Steps To Heaven, Little Town Flirt, Only Sixteen, Runaround Sue, Happy Birthday Sweet 16, Let It Be Me, Great Pretender, C'mon Everybody and Let's Twist Again. Performances are Mon-Fri 7.30pm, Sat 4pm, 8pm at the Playhouse Theatre.
Based on the hit film and featuring the unforgettable song Unchained Melody, Ghost the musical is one of the ultimate love stories. Having won three Whatsonstage.com Awards for best actor in a musical, best set design and best lighting design, don't miss Ghost the musical. Performances are Mon-Sat 7.30pm, Thurs and Sat 2.30pm at the Piccadilly Theatre.
Based on the children's book series and the popular BAFTA-winning TV show of the same name, Horrible Histories brings history to life on the stage for the younger generation. Perfect for families, the kids will learn plenty about British history - but they certainly won't be bored! Performances are Weds-Fri 1pm, Sat 10.30am, 12pm, Sun 3pm, 5pm at the Garrick Theatre.
inner of 53 Major awards worldwide, Jersey Boys tells the remarkable rise to stardom of one of the most successful 1960s rock 'n roll groups, Franki Valli and The Four Seasons. Jersey Boys songs include Big Girls Don't Cry, Can't Take My Eyes Off of You, Oh What a Night, Rag Doll and Sherry. Performances are Mon-Sat 7.30pm, Tues, Sat, Sun 3pm at the Prince Edward Theatre.
The world's longest running musical and based on Victor Hugo's 1862 novel, Les Miserables is the story of Jean Valjean, released on parole after 19 years on the chain gang. Seen by over 57 million people worldwide in 42 countries, 291 cities and sung in 21 different languages, Les Miserables songs include I Dreamed A Dream, Do You Hear the People Sing, Bring Him Home, Master of the House and One Day More. Performances are Mon-Sat 7.30pm, Weds and Sat 2.30pm at the Queen's Theatre.
Julie Taymor directs the stage adaptation of Disney's hugely successful animated film The Lion King. The stage show has songs by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice along with the musical score created by Hans Zimmer. Performances are Tues-Sat 7.30pm, Weds, Sat, Sun 2.30pm at the Lyceum Theatre.
Kensington Gardens are transformed into the magical world of Narnia in a dazzling and dramatic adaptation of The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. In a unique collaboration this major new production is adapted by award-winning director Rupert Goold, staged in The Threesixty Theatre, that gained international acclaim for its first production, Peter Pan, and directed by Goold and Michael Fentiman. Performances are Weds-Mon 7.30pm, Sat 3pm, Sun 1pm, 3.30pm.
David Suchet leads the cast in this revival of Eugene O'Neill's Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, one of the greatest American plays written in the 20th century. Following the Tyrone family through a mesmerising day and night, as they battle their demons, their pasts, and one another the play depicts the struggle for survival of each family member as they threaten to drift further into oblivion. Directed by Anthony Page with designs by Lez Brotherston the cast also includes Laurie Metcalf, Trevor White and Kyle Soller. Performances are Mon-Sat 7pm at the Apollo Theatre.
Based on the Songs of ABBA Mamma Mia opened in London over 10 years ago and has played to packed houses ever since. Written by Catherine Johnson, Mamma Mia the musical is composed by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, former members of Abba. Over 45 million people all around the world have fallen in love with the characters, the story and the music that makes this the ultimate feel-good show so get your Mamma Mia tickets and you too can have the time of your life! Performances are Mon-Thurs/Sat 7.30pm, Fri 5pm, 8.30pm at the Prince of Wales Theatre.
Matilda, Roald Dahl's much-loved tale of an extraordinary child with hideous parents is given the musical treatment by the combined talents of Tim Minchin and the RSC. Children and adults alike will be thrilled and delighted by the story of the special little girl with an extraordinary imagination. Performances are Tues 7pm,Weds-Sat 7.30pm, Sun 3pm, Weds and Sat 2.30pm at the Cambridge Theatre.
Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap has been thrilling audiences from around the world for as long as HRH Queen Elizabeth II has been on the throne. The Mousetrap opened in the West End of in 1952, and has been running continuously since then. It has the longest initial run of any play in history, with over 24,000 performances so far. Performances are Mon-Sat 7.30pm, Tues 3pm, Sat 4pm at St. Martin's Theatre.
Following sell-out seasons at the National Theatre and Adelphi Theatre, smash-hit comedy One Man, Two Guvnors opens at Theatre Royal Haymarket with a brand new lead Owain Arthur as Francis Henshall. In Richard Bean's English version of Carlo Goldoni's classic Italian comedy The Servant of Two Masters, sex, food and money are high on the agenda. Performances are Mon-Sat 7.30pm, Weds and Sat 2.30pm at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.
Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera is the longest-running musical in Broadway history and the second-longest-running West End musical. Phantom is the story of a terrifying and legendary figure that emerges from the depths of The Paris Opera House. The Phantom falls in love with the young Soprano Christine Daae devoting himself to creating a new star for the Opera by nurturing her extraordinary talents and employing all the skills at his disposal. Performances are Mon-Sat 7.30pm, Thurs and Sat 3pm at Her Majesty's Theatre.
A classic love story told through the mind-blowing, face-melting hits such as Don't Stop Believin', Dead or Alive, We Built This City, I Wanna Know what Love Is and The Final Count Down. Don't miss this awesomely good time about dreaming big, playing loud and partying on! Performances are Mon-Thurs 7.30pm, Fri 5.30pm, 8.30pm, Sat 4pm, 8pm at the Shaftesbury Theatre.
Featuring new songs as well as cult Shrek anthem I'm a Believer, Shrek The Musical brings the well loved characters to life, in a hilarious and spectacular new production based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks Animation film. The world of fairytales is turned upside down in an all singing, all dancing, irresistible mix of adventure, laughter and romance. Performances are Mon 7.30pm, Weds 7pm, Thurs-Sat 7.30pm, Sun 3pm, Thurs and Sat 3pm at the Theatre Royal Drury lane.
After an acclaimed sell out run at Chichester, Singin' in the Rain brings the glamour of the MGM film to the Palace theatre. Set at a time of change in the film world, Singin' In The Rain follows silent movie star Dan Lockwood who has everything he could ever want; fame, adulation and even a well-publicised romance with his co-star Lina Lamont. But there are rumours doing the rounds of a new kind of film that could alter everything. Performances are Mon-Tues 7pm, Weds-Sat 7.30pm, Weds and Sat 3pm at the Palace Theatre.
John Buchan's The 39 Steps – memorably filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1935 – is thrillingly adapted for the stage at London's Criterion Theatre. The 39 Steps is performed by four actors playing a minimum of 150 roles and contains every single legendary scene from the award-winning movie including the chase on the Flying Scotsman, the escape on the Forth Bridge, the first theatrical bi-plane crash ever staged and the sensational death-defying finale in the London Palladium, besides many other favourite cinematic moments, including the memorable and controversial stockings and suspenders scene! Performances are Mon-Sat 8pm, Weds 3pm, Sat 4pm at the Criterion Theatre.
The internationally renowned energetic combination of theatre, dance, comedy and percussion. Stomp finds beauty and music in the mundane - from boots and bins to zippo lighters and plumber's plungers - everything including the kitchen sink becomes part of this production as a cast of 8 performers make instruments out of brooms and turn hand-clapping into conversation. With energy and toe-tapping exuberance, Stomp takes the clutter and junk of everyday life and transforms it into a theatrical event. Performances are Mon, Thurs-Sat 8pm, Thurs and Sat 3pm, Sun 3pm, 8pm at the Ambassador's Theatre.
Following sell-out success at Chichester Festival Theatre, Jonathan Kent's acclaimed production of Sweeney Todd transfers to London's Adelphi Theatre for a limited season. Widely acknowledged as Stephen Sondheim's musical masterpiece, Sweeney Todd stars distinguished musical performer Michael Ball as the eponymous demon barber of Fleet Street and Oscar-nominated actress Imelda Staunton as the devoted Mrs Lovett. Combining a brutal sensibility with elements of English music hall, Sweeney Todd offers a fascinating portrait of a man driven to madness by injustice. Performances are Mon-Sat 7.30pm, Weds and Sat 2.30pm at the Adelphi Theatre (not 30 July-11 August 2012).
Established in 2006, Thriller Live moonwalked into the West End after three acclaimed UK tours and standing ovations across Europe. It is currently playing at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue as well as simultaneously touring the UK and Europe. The Thriller musical is a stage and video spectacular celebrating the wonderful music of one of the greatest entertainers of modern times, Michael Jackson. Performances are Tue-Fri 7.30pm, Sat 4pm, 8pm, Sun 3.30pm, 7.30pm at the Lyric Theatre.
It's time to put on your top hat and brush off your tails... Seventy-seven years after Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers lit up Hollywood's silver screen with one of the greatest dance musicals of all time, RKO Pictures' Top Hat comes to the West End's Aldwych Theatre. Judging by the sensational reviews, standing ovations and sold out theatres around the country on its pre-London tour, it has been well worth the wait. Top Hat is packed full of Irving Berlin's greatest hits, such as Let's Face the Music and Dance, Cheek to Cheek, Puttin On The Ritz and of course Top Hat, White Tie and Tails as well as stunning tap, romantic ballroom and a little bit of Busby Berkeley thrown in for good measure! Performances are Mon-Sat 7.30pm, Thurs and Sat 2.30pm at the Aldwych Theatre.
Based on Michael Morpurgo's novel, War Horse is the National Theatre's Laurence Olivier Award-winning World War I-set family drama. Actors working with striking life-sized puppets by the internationally renowned Handspring Puppet Company lead the audience on a gripping journey through history. Performances are Mon 7.30pm, Tues 7pm, Weds-Sat 7.30pm, Thurs and Sat 2.30pm at the New London Theatre.
Based on the Songs of Queen and with a book by Ben Elton, We Will Rock You has been playing at the Dominion Theatre since May 2002. We Will Rock You features 31 of their greatest hits including Radio Ga Ga, I Want to Break Free, Somebody to Love, Killer Queen, Play the Game, Under Pressure, A Kind of Magic, Don't Stop Me Now, I Want It All, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Who Wants to Live Forever, Another One Bites the Dust, These Are the Days of Our Lives, We Will We Will Rock, We Are the Champions and of course Bohemian Rhapsody. The show won five of our Whatsonstage.com Awards including Best New Musical, Best Actor in a Musical, Best Actress in a Musical, Best Supporting Actress in a Musical and Best Director. Performances are Mon-Sat 7.30pm, Weds, Sat 2.30pm at the Dominion Theatre.
Starring Omid Djalili, Tim McInnerny, Samantha Bond and Georgia Moffett, What the Butler Saw is an insanely funny, full-throttle tour de force. Hysterical one liners and outrageous twists collide, as the characters lose the plot, their wits, and their clothes. Performances are Mon-Sat 7.30pm, Thurs and Sat 2.30pm at the Vaudeville Theatre.
With music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman, Wicked is loosely based on the best-selling novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, a parallel novel of the 1939 film of L. Frank Baum's classic story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Wicked has won various awards including our own Whatsonstage.com Award for Best West End Show and an Olivier Audience Award for Most Popular Show. Performances are Mon-Sat 7.30pm, Weds and Sat 2.30pm at the Apollo Victoria Theatre.
Follow the yellow brick road over the rainbow and into The London Palladium, the capital's home of the family musical with Sophie Evans (BBC's smash hit Over The Rainbow) as Dorothy. Andrew Lloyd Webber's new production of The Wizard of Oz is an enchanting adaptation of the all time classic. Click your heels together and join Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, Dorothy and her little dog Toto, as they journey through the magical land of Oz to meet the Wizard and obtain their heart's desires. Watch out for the Wicked Witch of the West and her winged monkeys as you rediscover the real story of Oz in this fantastic musical treat for all the family. Performances are Tues 7pm, Weds-Sat 7.30pm, Weds and Sat 2.30pm, Sun 3pm at the London Palladium.
Based on Susan Hill's 1983 thriller, The Woman in Black has been running for over 20 years. Fog and creepily haunted houses, supernatural happenings, sea mists and dark stormy nights, lonely funerals and creaking attic doors, all combine in Stephen Mallatratt‘s gripping adaptation of The Woman in Black that creates a thrilling night out that taps into our primal fears. Performances are Mon-Sat 8pm, Tues 3pm, Sat 4pm at the Fortune Theatre.
Taking up residence in the heart of Whitehall, this comedy by original BBC writers Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn thrusts the much-loved characters Sir Humphrey Appleby and Jim Hacker into the chaos of 21st century coalition politics. With the threat of financial meltdown just hours away, and the only hope of rescue resting on a morally dubious deal with the Foreign Minister of Kumranistan, the stage is set for a riotous comedy of sex, scandal and scheming.
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