London is an unparalleled destination that offers a wide range of cultural attractions. In fact, the best theatrical productions are released every year in one of the city’s most attractive areas, the West End with its flagship theaters—some of them centuries old—featuring amazing musical theatre for all tastes and audiences.
Along with Broadway in New York, the plays presented in London’s West End are the best examples of musical theater in the English language. These shows are an unavoidable tourist attraction for all the travelers who come to the British capital.
These are some of the most successful productions in London this year.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Royal Theatre, Drury Lane
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is based on a children’s book by British writer Roald Dahl. It tells the story of young Charlie Bucket and Willy Wonka, the mysterious confectioner. When Charlie wins a golden ticket to visit the strange and wonderful chocolate factory, he sees it as the opportunity of a lifetime. But beyond the astonishment, the doors made of cakes and corridors full of goodies, the five lucky winners will find that things are not as sweet as they expected. Directed by Oscar winner Sam Mendes and with an ingenious staging, the original story of Charlie, which has captivated the world for nearly 50 years, returns to life with this wonderful adaptation by playwright David Greig (Tintin in Tibet), with music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman—both winners of a Grammy award for Hairspray (2002)—costume designs by Mark Thompson (Mamma Mia!) and the excellent choreography of Peter Darling (Billy Elliot the Musical). A chocolate garden, an army of squirrels and the peculiar, disturbing and funny Oompa-Loompas, will delight those who come to London and feel that, within them, there is still a child willing to be dazzled by a story so imaginative and surprising.
Palace Theatre London
Jimmy Rabbitte, a young, working class Irish music fan, decides to call on a strange group of amateur musicians to create Dublin´s most stylish band in the 1980s, and names it The Commitments. The mood is set when the members of the band meet. We’ll see the jealousy, fights, love affairs and all the problems they will have to overcome before they perform their first concert. As they improve, they encounter more serious issues… Will they manage to succeed? The music is one of the great attractions of this new production: Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes and The Temptations come alive in a vibrant musical show that has earned excellent reviews and public acclaim.
In 1963, the “Profumo Case”, a political sex scandal, rocked the conservative British society of the time, involving the then British War Minister John Profumo. In the summer of 1961, Profumo met Christine Keeler through physician Stephen Ward, her landlord. One evening, Ward introduced her to Profumo at the Cliveden Country Estate, which belonged to Viscount Lord Aston, and right away they initiated their romantic adventure. The scandal erupted after news emerged that the minister had a brief relationship with Keeler, who had apparently kept intimate encounters with a Soviet spy known as Yevgeny Ivanov. Later, when the House of Commons officially questions the minister, he denies the claims. The public scandal forces Profumo to resign and seriously damages the reputation of the government of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, who resigns a few months later, “due to health problems.” Written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Negro and Christopher Hampton, and directed by Richard Eyre, this show stands out for the elegance of its music, glamorous costumes and excellent choreography. It has become an argument against prudery and a celebration of individual freedom in the context of one of England’s biggest political scandals.
Let it Be
The musical Let it Be celebrates the 50th anniversary of the most successful rock and roll band the world has ever seen: The Beatles. Let it Be is a spectacular theatrical concert that features the top 20 hits from the emblematic group from Liverpool. With this work, Beatles fans can closely watch the band’s meteoric rise, from their humble beginnings in Liverpool’s Cavern Club to their studio works, recorded much later. The play features performances of the Beatles’ first songs, including Twist & Shout, She Loves You, and All My Lovin, plus global blockbusters such as Yesterday, Hey Jude, Come Together, and of course, Let It Be. You will thoroughly enjoy this electrifying, multimedia spectacle that will take you back to the magical 1960s. ■