Which musicals to see in London depends on the period and also on personal tastes.
Some musicals in London have been on the scene for decades by now and many Londoners will have seen them at least once in their lifetime.
A musical is a theatrical show with music and ballets integrated into its story and to be such it must have music, lyrics and above all a libretto.
When people think of musicals nowadays they think of Broadway in Manhattan, New York City, but it seems that the origin of musicals have their roots here in the United Kingdom.
The musical derives directly from the operetta (also called comic opera) which was a very popular genre in the 1800s especially here in Great Britain.
Collaborations between librettists and composers back then produced operettas still staged today here in London such as Mikado or The Pirates of Penzance.
The fact that this duo was operating in London opened the doors to the British tradition for the theatrical show with music, a genre that from the comic operas gave birth to modern musicals. Even then it was difficult to choose which musicals to see in London, there were many shows and it seems that only in the late 1800s Americans started producing their own operettas and musicals.
From that moment onwards West End (London's theatre neighbourhood) and New York's Broadway have always been somewhat rival, although almost always without malice.
Back in the days, theatres were spread out all across the Thames in the neighbourhoods of Bankside and Southbank.
When the first operettas were staged West End did not exist at all and it began to exist in the 1700s with the creation of new roads and buildings in this area.
I have read that the first theatre to open its doors was the Royal Opera House which dates back to the year 1732. In 1800 other theatres opened in the area between today's Covent Garden and the Strand and you are now spoiled for choice of which musicals in London you can see and which theatre you can go to.
I have heard that West End and the theatre industry is in decline but I do not think so.
It seems that the audience of theatre performances, especially musicals, increases every year and it is hard to find tickets (especially affordable ones) all year round.
There are about 40 theatres that are part of Theatreland in West End.
west end London
The good thing about musicals is that you don't have to have advanced English to be able to see and enjoy them because in the musicals music and choreography are key and they are enough to enjoy the show.
The libretto one can buy at the door is very useful because it tells you the story of the play or musical you are about to see other than listing the names of the performers.
If you can only go to the theatre in London once, one of the major musicals you can see is the Wicked musical in London, based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, Wicked tells the untold story of the Witches of Oz before they came to be good and evil.
Some other popular musicals which have long been playing in London are :
MammaMia - the funny story is accompanied by ABBA songs that make it one of the ultimate feel-good musicals in London.
Thriller – thi one celebrates the music of Michael Jackson and I have heard it will have its final show in April after running for 11 straight years!