West End theatre

West End theatre

West End theatre is a popular term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of London's "Theatreland".Christopher Innes, "West End" in "The Cambridge Guide to Theatre" (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), p.1194-1195. ISBN 0521434378.] Along with New York's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world. Seeing a West End show is a common tourist activity in London.

Total attendances first surpassed 12 million in 2002, and in June 2005 "The Times" reported that this record might be beaten in 2005. Total attendance numbers surpassed 13 million in 2007 [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2268735/TV-talent-shows-help-West-End-shows-to-record-audience.html TV talent shows help West End shows to record audience - Telegraph ] ] , setting a new record for the West End. Factors behind high ticket sales in the first half of 2005 included new hit musicals such as "Billy Elliot", "The Producers" and "Mary Poppins" and the high number of film stars appearing. Since the late 1990s there has been an increase in the number of American actors on the London stage, and in 2005 these included Brooke Shields, Val Kilmer, Rob Lowe and David Schwimmer. Also in 2005, Ewan McGregor made his first appearance in a stage musical in "Guys and Dolls". Kevin Spacey has been artistic director of the Old Vic Theatre since 2004 and appears in some of his own productions.



Most of the theatres in "Theatreland" are of late Victorian or Edwardian construction, and they are privately owned. Most of them have great character, and the largest and best maintained are splendid, featuring grand neo-classical, romanesque, or Victorian facades and luxurious, detailed interior design and decoration. On the other hand, leg room is often cramped, and audience facilities such as bars and toilets are often much smaller than in modern theatres. The protected status of the buildings and their confined urban locations, combined with financial constraints, mean that it is very difficult to make substantial improvements to the level of comfort offered. In 2004, it was estimated that an investment of £250 million was required for modernisation, and the theatre owners unsuccessfully requested tax concessions to help them meet the costs.

Long-running shows

West End shows may run for a varying number of weeks, depending on ticket sales. Musicals tend to have longer runs than dramas. The longest running musical in West End history is "Les Misérables". It overtook Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Cats", which closed in 2002 after running for 8,949 performances and 21 years, as the longest running West End musical of all time on 8 October 2006. Other long-runners include Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera", still running after 21 years, and Willy Russell's "Blood Brothers", currently in its 20th year. However the non-musical Agatha Christie play "The Mousetrap" is the longest running show in the world, and has been showing since 1952.

Longest running shows in London:
*The Mousetrap at the St Martin's Theatre - opened 25 November 1952 originally at the Ambassadors Theatre [ [http://www.thisistheatre.com/londonshows/mousetrap.html The Mousetrap London theatre tickets and information ] ] - 55th Year. "It is also the longest running show in Canada; starting on 19 August 1977 it closed on 18 January 2004 after running for 26 years." [ [http://www.world-theatres.com/longruns.html#longruns.broadway.html Long Runs – Broadway, Off Broadway, London, Toronto & Other Major Cities ] ]
*Les Misérables at the Queen's Theatre - opened 8 October 1985 originally at the Barbican Theatre - 23rd Year
*The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre - opened 9 October 1986 [ [http://www.thisistheatre.com/shows/hermajestys40.html Phantom of The Opera London - information on the theatre show ] ] - 22nd Year
*Cats - opened 11 May 1981 at the New London Theatre and closed 11 May 2002 on its 21st anniversary
*Blood Brothers at the Phoenix Theatre - opened 28 July 1988 originally at the Albery Theatre [ [http://www.thisistheatre.com/shows/phoenix99.html Blood Brothers London - information on the theatre show ] ] - 20th Year
*The Woman in Black at the Fortune Theatre opened 15 February 1989 originally at the Strand Theatre [ [http://www.thisistheatre.com/londontheatre/fortunetheatre.html Fortune Theatre London - information and tickets ] ] - 19th Year
*Starlight Express - opened 27 March 1984 at the Apollo Victoria Theatre and closed 12 January 2002 [http://www.world-theatres.com/longruns.html#longruns.london.html Long Runs – Broadway, Off Broadway, London, Toronto & Other Major Cities ] ] - 17 years
*No Sex Please, We're British - opened 3 June 1971 at the Strand Theatre and closed 16 January 1987 - 16 years
*Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story - opened 6 October 1995 at the Victoria Palace Theatre and closed 19 May 2002 - 13 years
*Chicago at the Cambridge Theatre - opened 18 November 1997 originally at the Adelphi Theatre- 11th Year
*The Black and White Minstrel Show - opened in 1962 at the Victoria Palace Theatre and closed about 1972 - 10 years
*Miss Saigon - opened 20 September 1989 at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and closed 30 October 1999 - 10 years
*Mamma Mia! at the Prince of Wales Theatre - opened 6 April 1999 originally at the Prince Edward Theatre - 9th Year
*Disney's The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre - opened 19 October 1999 - 9th Year
*Jesus Christ Superstar - opened 9 August 1972 at the Palace Theatre and closed about 1980 - 8 years
*Me and My Girl (revival) - opened 12 February 1985 at the Adelphi Theatre and closed 16 January 1993 - 8 years
*Aldwych Farces (revue) - opened in 1925 at the Aldwych Theatre and closed in 1933 - 8 years
*Evita - opened 21 January 1978 at the Prince Edward Theatre and closed on 8 February 1986 - 7 years
*There's A Girl In My Soup - opened June 1966 at the Globe Theatre and transferred to The Comedy in 1970. It closed in 1972/3 after over a thousand performances - 6 1/2 years
*Oliver! - opened in 1960 at the New Theatre and closed about 1966 - 6 years
*We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre - 14 May 2002 - 6th Year
*Stomp at the Ambassadors Theatre opened 25 September 2002 - 6th Year

London's non-commercial theatres

, other classic plays and premieres of new plays by leading highbrow playwrights. Hit plays from the non-commercial theatres sometimes transfer to one of the commercial "Theatreland" houses for an extended second run.

Other London theatre

There is a great deal of theatre in London outside of the West End. Much of this is known as fringe theatre which is the equivalent of Off Broadway Theatre in New York. Fringe venues range from well-equipped small theatres to rooms above pubs, and the performances range from classic plays, to cabaret, to plays in the languages of London's ethnic minorities. The performers range from emerging young professionals to amateurs.

Finally, there are also local theatres in the suburbs which stage a wide range of work, often including touring productions such as the New Wimbledon Theatre or the Churchill Theatre in Bromley.

Theatrical schools

A number of the UK's most prestigious theatrical schools are based within the central and greater London areas. Many of these schools specialise in Drama, Dance and Musical Theatre and have an impressive number of notable and famous alumni working in West End theatre. Many of these London theatrical schools are internationally renowned and attract large number of students from around the World.

*Academy of Live and Recorded Arts
*ArtsEd London
*Bird College of Dance, Music & Theatre Performance
*Brit School for Performing Arts
*Central School of Speech and Drama
*English National Ballet School
*Guildhall School of Music and Drama
*Italia Conti Academy
*London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art
*London Contemporary Dance School;
*London School of Dramatic Art
*London School of Musical Theatre
*Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts
*Rose Bruford College
*Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
*Royal Academy of Music
*Royal Ballet School
*Sylvia Young Theatre School
*The Drama Centre
*The Poor School


There are a number of annual awards for outstanding achievements in London theatre:
*Laurence Olivier Awards
*Evening Standard Awards
*London Critics' Circle Theatre Awards
*West End Cares Awards
* [http://admin.whatsonstage.com/ Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers' Choice Awards]

Notable recent performers


Martin Shaw, Kevin Spacey, Eve Best, Derek Jacobi, Bob Hoskins, Alan Cumming, Janie Dee, Jodhi May, Ashlee Simpson, David Haig, Samantha Bond, David Bedella, Suzanne Shaw, Steve Pemberton, Danny Baker, Christopher Biggins, Roger Lloyd Pack, Summer Strallen, Michael Gambon, Jeremy Irons, Patrick Malahide, Cheryl Baker, Stephen McGann, Johnny Shentall, Lorna Want, Anita Dobson, Judi Dench, Diana Rigg, Martin Jarvis, Tom Conti, David Walliams, Matt Lucas, David Soul, Megan Dodds, James Fox, Christian Slater, Faye Tozer, Tim Pigott-Smith, Dave Willetts, Dawn French, Linda Robson, Jenny Eclair, Alison Moyet, Daniel Evans, Jenna Russell, Ian Richardson, Anna Maxwell Martin, Iain Glen, Ian McKellen, Timothy West, Kathleen Turner, Antony Costa, Bonnie Langford, Alex Ferns, Patrick Swayze. Claire Sweeney, Amy Nuttall, Neil Morrissey, Sally Ann Triplett, Adam Cooper, Richard Dempsey, Neve Campbell, Matthew Modine, Lesley Garrett, Connie Fisher, Aoife Mulholland, Reece Shearsmith, Tim Rogers, Alun Armstrong, Adam Garcia, Helen Dallimore, Idina Menzel, Nigel Planer, Miriam Margolyes, Michelle Collins, Javine Hylton, Camilla Beeput, Tim Curry, and Lisa O'Hare.


*"Absurd Person Singular": Jane Horrocks, Jenny Seagrove, John Gordon Sinclair, David Bamber, David Horovitch
*"Alex": Robert Bathurst
*"All About My Mother": Diana Rigg, Lesley Manville, Colin Morgan, Joanne Frogatt, Charlotte Randle
*"A Night in November": Patrick Kielty
*"": David Burt, Camilla Beeput, Helen Fraser, Sally Dexter
*"Billy Elliot The Musical": Sally Dexter, James Gaddas, Jackie Clune
*"Blood Brothers": Helen Hobson, Steven Houghton
*"Boeing Boeing": Frances de la Tour, Rhea Perlman, Tamzin Outhwaite, Adrian Dunbar, Amy Nuttall, Roger Allam, Daisy Beaumont, Elena Roger, Patricia Hodge, Neil Stuke, Kevin McNally, Tracey-Ann Oberman, Jennifer Ellison, Jean Marsh
*"Cabaret": Kim Medcalf, Honor Blackman, James Dreyfus, Amy Nuttall, Julian Clary
*"Chicago": Tony Hadley, Maxwell Caulfield, Aoife Mulholland, Duncan James, Kelly Osbourne, Clive Rowe, Josefina Gabrielle, Amra-Faye Wright, Bonnie Langford
*"Dealer's Choice": Roger Lloyd Pack, Samuel Barnett, Malcolm Sinclair
*"Desperately Seeking Susan": Emma Williams, Kelly Price, Steven Houghton
*"Elling": John Simm
*"Equus": Daniel Radcliffe, Jenny Agutter, Richard Griffiths
*"Fame": Natalie Casey, Ian Watkins
*"Fiddler on the Roof": Henry Goodman
*"Gaslight": Rosamund Pike, Kenneth Cranham
*"Glengarry Glen Ross": Jonathan Pryce, Aidan Gillen, Matthew Marsh
*"Grease": Danny Bayne, Susan McFadden, Siobhan Dillon
*"Guys and Dolls": Don Johnson, Ben Richards, Samantha Janus, Amy Nuttall
*"Hairspray": Michael Ball, Mel Smith, Tracie Bennett, Ben James-Ellis, Rachael Wooding, Leanne Jones
*"In Celebration": Orlando Bloom, Tim Healy, Lynda Baron, Dearblah Malloy
*"Joseph": Lee Mead, Preeya Kalidas
*"Kean": Anthony Sher
*"King Lear": Ian McKellen, Frances Barber, Sylvester McCoy
*"Kismet": Michael Ball, Faith Prince
*"Little Shop of Horrors": Sheridan Smith, Alistair McGowan, Mike McShane
*"Macbeth": Peter Duncan
*"Macbeth": Patrick Stewart
*"Mamma Mia!": Linzi Hateley
*"Mary Poppins": Scarlett Strallen, Gavin Creel
*"Menopause the Musical": Su Pollard
*"Monty Python's Spamalot": Simon Russell Beale, Hannah Waddingham, Peter Davison, Bill Ward
*"Much Ado About Nothing": Zoe Wanamaker, Simon Russell Beale
*"Othello": Ewan McGregor, Chitewel Ejifor
*"Pinter's People": Bill Bailey, Geraldine McNulty
*"Rafta Rafta": Meera Syal
*"Rent": Denise van Outen, Siobhan Donaghy, Leon Lopez
*"Shadowlands": Charles Dance, Janie Dee
*"Side by Side by Sondheim": Les Dennis, Christopher Cazenove, Angela Rippon, Barry Cryer
*"Swimming with Sharks": Christian Slater, Helen Baxendale, Matt Smith
*"The Country Wife": David Haig, Patricia Hodge, Toby Stephens
*"The Drowsy Chaperone": Elaine Paige, Bob Martin, Steve Pemberton
*"The Dumb Waiter": Lee Evans, Jason Issacs
*"The Entertainer": Robert Lindsay
*"The Glass Menagerie": Jessica Lange, Ed Stoppard, Amanda Hale, Mark Umbers
*"The History Boys": Desmond Barritt, Stephen Campbell Moore
*"The Icons in London": Greg London
*"The Last Confession": David Suchet
*"The Letter": Jenny Seagrove, Anthony Andrews
*"The Lord of the Rings": Laura Michelle Kelly, Malcolm Storry, Jerome Pradon
*"The Rocky Horror Show": Richard O'Brien, Danny Baker, Suzanne Shaw
*"The Rose Tattoo": Zoe Wanamaker
*"The New Statesman": Rik Mayall
*"The Seagull": Ian McKellen, Frances Barber, William Gaunt
*"The Sound Of Music": Connie Fisher, Aoife Mulholland
*"The Vegemite Tales": Blair McDonough, Jonathan Dutton
*"Treats": Billie Piper, Kris Marshall, Laurence Fox
*"War Horse": Paul Chequer
*"Whipping It Up": Richard Wilson, Robert Bathurst
*"Wicked": Alexia Khadime, Kerry Ellis, Dianne Pilkington, Helen Dallimore, Susie Blake, Nigel Planer, Adam Garcia, Oliver Tompsett,


*"Absurd Person Singular": Jane Horrocks, Jenny Seagrove, John Gordon Sinclair, David Bamber, David Horovitch
*"Billy Elliot The Musical": Jackie Clune, James Gaddas
*"Blood Brothers": Helen Hobson, Lyn Paul
*"Cabaret": Amy Nuttall, Julian Clary, Alistair McGowan
*"Chicago": Duncan James, Clive Rowe, Bonnie Langford, Brenda Edwards, Zee Asha, Suzanne Shaw
*"Dealer's Choice": Roger Lloyd Pack, Samuel Barnett, Malcolm Sinclair
*"Fat Pig": Kris Marshall, Robert Webb, Joanna Page, Kevin Bishop
*"Fiddler on the Roof": Henry Goodman
*"Grease": Danny Bayne, Susan McFadden, Siobhan Dillon, Ray Quinn, Natalie Griffiths, Clare Ryder
*"Hairspray": Michael Ball, Mel Smith, Tracie Bennett, Ben James-Ellis, Rachael Wooding, Leanne Jones, Ian Talbot
*"Hamlet": David Tennant, Patrick Stewart
*"Ivanov": Kenneth Brannagh, Andrea Riseborough, Kevin R McNally, Malcolm Sinclair
*"Jersey Boys": Glenn Carter, Ryan Molloy, Amy Pemberton
*"Joseph": Lee Mead, Lewis Bradley
*"Marguerite": Ruthie Henshall, Alexander Hanson
*"Mamma Mia!": Linzi Hateley
*"Mary Poppins": Scarlett Strallen, Gavin Creel
*"Mind Reader": Derren Brown
*"Monty Python's Spamalot": Hannah Waddingham, Peter Davison, Bill Ward, Marin Mazzie, Alan Dale, Sanjeev Bhaskar
*"Much Ado About Nothing": Zoe Wanamaker, Simon Russell Beale
*"Never Forget": Teddy Kempner, Dean Chisnall
*"Oedipus": Ralph Fiennes
*"Oliver!": Rowan Atkinson, Burn Gorman, Harry Stott, Gwion Jones, Laurence Jeffcoate, Jodie Prenger
*"Othello": Ewan McGregor, Chitewel Ejifor, Kelly Reilly
*"Pygmalion": Tim Pigott-Smith
*"Rain Man": Josh Hartnett, Adam Godley
*"Rent": Jessie Wallace, Siobhan Donaghy, Leon Lopez
*"Shadowlands": Charles Dance, Janie Dee, John Standing
*"Speed-the-Plow": Kevin Spacey, Jeff Goldblum, Laura Michelle Kelly
*"That Face": Lindsay Duncan, Matt Smith, Hannah Murray
*"The 39 Steps": Josefina Gabrielle
*"The God of Carnage": Ralph Fiennes, Janet McTeer, Ken Stott, Tamsin Greig
*"The History Boys": Desmond Barritt
*"The Importance of Being Earnest": Penelope Keith
*"The Lord of the Rings": Laura Michelle Kelly, Malcolm Storry, Jerome Pradon
*"The Mikado": Alistair McGowan
*"The Pirates of Penzance": Jo Brand
*"The Sea": David Haig, Eileen Atkins, Marcia Warren, Russell Tovey
*"The Sound of Music": Connie Fisher, Aoife Mulholland, Summer Strallen
*"The Vortex": Felicity Kendal, Dan Stevens, Annette Badland
*"The Wizard of Oz": Gary Wilmot
*"The Year of Magical Thinking": Vanessa Redgrave
*"Twelfth Night": Derek Jacobi
*"Under the Blue Sky": Catherine Tate
*"War Horse": Paul Chequer
*"Wicked": Kerry Ellis, Dianne Pilkington, Susie Blake, Nigel Planer, Harriet Thorpe, Desmond Barrit, Alexia Khadime
*"Zorro": Emma Williams, Matt Rawle


*"Hamlet": Jude Law
*"Madame de Sade": Dame Judi Dench, Rosamund Pike

ee also

*List of London theatres
*List of West End musicals
*List of notable musical theatre productions
*Musical theatre


External links

* [http://www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk/ Society of London Theatre] - trade body for the London theatre industry
* [http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/LondonWestEndTheatres.htm History of London's West End Theatres]
* [http://westendwhingers.wordpress.com/ West End Whingers] Satirical reviews of West End Theatre productions

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