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Top shows to see to convert musical sceptics

The genre might not appear to be for all, but this selection might change someone's mind!

The cast of Six
© Eleanor Howarth

As the Curve's artistic director Nikolai Foster recently told WhatsOnStage, musicals have the potential to be an extremely exciting and relevant form of theatre. Yet not everyone is a musical devotee, and there are sceptics out there thinking that showtune-laden productions reflect some form of low-brow entertainment (sigh). To try and dispel this myth, the following musicals demonstrate the art form at its very best or most innovative. If you know someone who doesn't consider themselves a fan of the musical, get them to watch one or two of these and re-assess themselves!

Come From Away

The original West End cast of Come From Away
© Matthew Murphy

Based on actual events in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Tony and Olivier award-winning Come From Away portrays what happened when 38 planes were diverted from JFK Airport and forced to land in a rural Canadian town called Gander. An exploration of empathy in the face of tragedy, many of the characters in the show share the names of their real-life counterparts. Booking until 23 May 2020 – Phoenix Theatre

Dear Evan Hansen

The cast of Dear Evan Hansen
© Matthew Murphy

Having made its debut on Broadway four years ago, Dear Evan Hansen has finally made its way to these shores and it would be fair to say that the show is creating a bit of a storm. Never mind the fact that "Waving Through a Window" and "You Will Be Found" are considered modern musical classics, the depiction of mental health and teenage anxiety is so relevant the production could have no music at all and still touch audiences. Booking until 2 May 2020 – Noel Coward Theatre


The original West End cast of Hamilton
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

An incredibly original musical, Hamilton cleaned up at the 2019 WhatsOnStage awards. The production won five gongs on the night, reflecting the esteem it has been held in since it landed in the UK two years ago. The show also runs a £10 lottery ticket scheme for those trying to find cheaper tickets. Booking until 25 April 2020 – Victoria Palace Theatre

Prince of Egypt

Liam Tamne and Luke Brady perform The Prince of Egypt
© Darren Bell

This upcoming production is already receiving praise for employing a diverse cast that is a "true reflection of our society" according to British producer Michael McCabe. The show features ten new songs from composer Stephen Schwartz as well as original hits from the 1998 film. 5 February to 12 September 2020 – Dominion Theatre

West Side Story

Andy Coxon (Tony) and Gabriela Garcia (Maria) in The Royal Exchange's West Side Story
© Richard Davenport of The Other Richard

One of the most popular musicals of all time, this Romeo and Juliet inspired story has mesmerized audiences since it was first shown over 60 years ago. The Royal Exchange production was such a success last year that another run is planned for spring 2020 but if that seems like too long to wait do not fret – Leicester's Curve is performing the classic over Christmas. 23 November to 18 January – Curve, Leicester. 18 April to 23 May 2020 – Royal Exchange, Manchester

Moulin Rouge!

The Broadway production of Moulin Rouge!
© Matthew Murphy

Based on the 2001 film starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, Moulin Rouge! opened on Broadway earlier this year to rave reviews. Short of buying a plane ticket to New York, British audiences might have to wait a little while to see the production – it is due to open at Piccadilly Theatre in 2021. Opens March 2021 – Piccadilly Theatre

& Juliet

Cassidy Janson, Miriam-Teak Lee and Melanie La Barrie in & Juliet
© Johan Persson

Having received a five-star review from WhatsOnStage a few weeks ago, & Juliet simply had to make this list. Whilst the concept might sound a little odd, this is undeniably a really fun and entertaining show. Booking until 30 May 2020 – Shaftesbury Theatre

Pretty Woman

Aimie Atkinson and Danny Mac
© Oliver Rosser

With a score composed by Grammy Award-winning musician Bryan Adams, it is little surprise that Pretty Woman was WhatsOnStage's best selling show in September. Fans do not have long left to wait until the musical hits the West End. 14 February 2020 to 2 January 2021 – Piccadilly Theatre


The cast of Six
© Eleanor Howarth

A show about the six wives of Henry VIII might not seem like a crowd-pleasing, revisionist musical, but it's hard not to be converted by the infectious power of this one-act musical which will seemingly reign for years at the Arts Theatre in London. The show's also out on a tour, so can be seen across the UK for the time being. Booking until 5 July 2020 – Arts Theatre

Guys and Dolls

TJ Lloyd and the company of Guys and Dolls
© Johan Persson

For six weeks over the festive period, a little bit of New York City can be found in South Yorkshire. Guys and Dolls is playing at the Crucible, so prepare yourself for fast cars, bright lights and snappy suits… sounds just like Sheffield. 7 December to 18 January 2020 – Crucible Theatre, Sheffield

Be More Chill

The Broadway production of Be More Chill
© Baranova

Another musical dealing with teenage angst and low confidence, Be More Chill lands in Off-West End early next year. Rumour has a film adaptation is also in the works. 12 February to 3 May 2020 – The Other Palace