Answers from Our Experts (3)
For the last few weeks the hottest shows in Theatreland have been The Book of Mormon and The Audience, both of which opened last month. They couldn't be more different – one's a hilarious, irreverent musical about American missionaries in Africa penned by the team behind South Park, the other's a considered drama about Queen Elizabeth II's relationship with her prime ministers starring Dame Helen Mirren – but together they're taking the West End by storm.
Once, which opened this week, may not be prompting quite the popular fervour of the productions I've just mentioned but don't be fooled – this is a show to get excited about. Like Mormon, Once comes to London fresh from a Broadway run, where it won a huge haul of Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Unlike Mormon, however, the show's creative team all come from this side of the pond, making the London opening something of a homecoming. Directed by John Tiffany (the man behind 2006 hit Black Watch), designed by Bob Crowley and adapted for the stage by Enda Walsh, Once is a tender tale of a Dublin busker and a young Czech woman brought together by the music they love. The show has garnered fantastic reviews, so snap up some tickets before everyone else does.
The new West End show on everybody's lips right now is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Following very much in the footsteps of the phenomenally-successful Matilda the Musical (winner of seven Olivier Awards and four Tony Awards), this second Roald Dahl adaptation is directed by the Academy-Award winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Skyfall) – and looks set to be another enormous hit when it begins its run at Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
Other acclaimed West End newcomers include the book adaptation The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, currently playing at the Apollo Theatre, the film adaptation Once the Musical at the Phoenix Theatre, and the book and film adaptation From Here to Eternity at the Shaftesbury Theatre.
London's West End is the world's leading destination for musical theatre, which the exception of – arguably – Broadway, and so you can expect there to be new shows in town pretty much whenever you choose to visit.
But this month one new show has really got everyone talking and at the moment the hottest ticket in town is also the newest. The show I am talking about is, of course, the Book of Mormon. This much anticipated show based on the Mormon religion is written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, of South Park fame and has been drawing huge advance ticket sales and adoring crowds. It's an extremely entertaining show, with plenty of giggles, and if you can possibly get a ticket, do. It's almost certainly the best show in London right now.
A close second in my opinion would be Matilda, also a fairly new show. This is based on the Roald Dahl book of the same name and features some of the most spectacular set pieces involving child actors there have surely ever been. It's suitable for (almost) the whole family (ages 6 and up) too.
Other new shows in town include A Chorus Line which tells the tales of a line-up of wannabe dancers at a Broadway audition and Let It Be, which showcases more than 20 Beatles songs. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is also set to open in May.