London Musicals You Didn't Know You Wanted To See

by Heather Robinette /
Heather Robinette's picture
Oct 12, 2015 / 0 comments

Although musicals are performed across the United States, London provides a unique opportunity to see a vast number of musicals in one city. During my time studying abroad in London, I saw four musicals and one play. I never thought I would like musicals, but the performances were remarkable. I’ve put together some information about the musicals I saw and information on finding current musicals. You have the opportunity to enjoy award-winning performances and see stories come to life. You won’t want to pass up the chance to experience a unique part of London. 

London Musicals You Didn't Know You Wanted To See

Billy Elliot the Musical

Billy Elliot the Musical is based on the 2000 film Billy Elliot. Billy is a young boy who trades boxing gloves for ballet shoes and the story follows his struggle and success. The story also depicts historical events involving the UK miners’ strike during the 1980s. By the end of the musical, you will be cheering Billy on. In the musical I saw, the actor that played Billy was a 12 year old boy and his performance blew me away. It definitely took a lot of talent to put on the performance, but he did an awesome job.

Billy Elliot the musical - London Musicals You Didn't Know You Wanted To See

Dreamboats and Petticoats

Dreamboats and Petticoats is a musical set in the 1950s that tells the story of two young musicians who compete as a team to win a song writing competition. The musical features rock ’n’ roll songs, which makes it a very upbeat musical that I found fun and enjoyable. 

Dreamboats and Petticoats. London Musicals You Didn't Know You Wanted To See

Wizard of Oz

Wizard of Oz is based on the 1939 film. Growing up in Kansas, this was a must-see on my list. They did a great job following the story, and the set designs are something I will never forget. Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, Dorothy and her little dog Toto, journeyed through the magical land of Oz to meet the Wizard and put on a great performance.  

Wizard of Oz. London Musicals You Didn't Know You Wanted To See

We Will Rock You

We Will Rock You is a musical based on songs by Queen. If you are familiar with any of the songs, you will quickly recognize several of them during the show. The musical tells the story of a group of Bohemians in the distant future who struggle to bring back the ability to freely exchange thoughts, fashion, and live music because everyone dresses, thinks, and acts the same. They face a time when musical instruments and composers are forbidden, and rock music is unknown. It was a great musical and I had the opportunity to tour the backstage area earlier in the day. It was crazy to see all the different outfits and small areas behind and below the stage. 

We Will Rock You. London Musicals You Didn't Know You Wanted To See

Backstage at We Will Rock You. London Musicals You Didn't Know You Wanted To See

Backstage at We Will Rock You. London Musicals You Didn't Know You Wanted To See

Backstage at We Will Rock You. London Musicals You Didn't Know You Wanted To See

39 Steps (Play)

39 Steps is a comedy-thriller play that features four actors that play 139 roles during 100 minutes of fast-paced action. The story follows the adventures of a man who encounters murders, double-crossing secret agents, and a variety of characters. I never thought I would enjoy plays, but this is a must-see if you have the opportunity. It’s a true British play and the chaos of four actors playing 139 roles makes the story incredible. 

39 Steps. London Musicals You Didn't Know You Wanted To See

Current Musicals 

Some of the musicals I saw during my time in London are still playing today, but there are new ones as well. I included a link below to a great website I used to find musicals, but there are a variety of websites out there. Another great way to discover what is playing is to walk around London. During our walking tour, we saw locations of several other musicals. The musicals range in price, but I found that no matter where I sat, it was still enjoyable. Given the chance, the top three musicals I would see today would be Wicked, Jersey Boys, and Cats. 

Hopefully this information can help you in experiencing a different part of London. I did not know what to expect when I saw my first musical, but I wish I would have had time for more of them when I studied abroad. The musicals gave me the chance to experience more of London and I would highly recommend at least checking out one musical - you never know what you might like! 




Heather Robinette is the London Study Abroad Editor for Wandering Educators. She notes, "During the summer of 2011, I studied abroad for six weeks in London at the University of Westminster with Academics Programs International. I graduated from Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS in December 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. I currently work as a marketing analyst for a small company in central Texas. I am also pursuing my MBA. While I was abroad in London, I was able to create many unforgettable memories that I will never forget! My study abroad experience helped me gain various skills, but above all else, it helped me to learn more about myself and the world around me." You can find her online at


All photos courtesy and copyright Heather Robinette, except: 
39 Steps Flickr cc: Ben Sutherland
Savoy Theatre Wikimedia Commons: Andy Roberts, adapted by Wandering Educators 
Billy Elliot Wikimedia Commons: Philafrenzy