London’s West End is synonymous with theatres and musicals. This theatre district ranks, along with New York’s Broadway, as the largest theatre districts in the world. London’s Theatreland district is home to approximately 40 venues around the West End of London. The West End theatre district came to be after the opening of many small theatres and halls in the area, and expanded when the Theatres Act of 1843 relaxed restrictions.
Over the years, a number of shows have come and gone. As audience’s tastes have changed, so have the types of entertainment, but a number of shows have had successful runs of more than a decade. Some shows get revived many years after they first closed, and others keep running even after changing venues multiple times. Here are some of the longest running shows on the West End, and their number of performances as of 4 July 2017.
- The Mousetrap: Agatha Christie’s murder mystery play opened in 1952, and is still running after more than 27,000 performances. The sets, costumes, and props have been replaced twice, in 1965 and 1999.
- Les Misérables: This French Revolution musical opened in its English version in 1985, and has clocked in over 13,100 performances so far. It has also been made into a feature film starring Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean.
- The Phantom of the Opera: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical about an opera company follows closely on the heels of Les Mis at almost 12,800, having opened a year later in 1986. It did beat Les Mis to the movies, however.
- The Woman in Black: The second longest running play on the list, a ghost horror story, has racked up almost 11,500 performances since 1989.
- Blood Brothers: Willy Russel’s musical about two twins who were separated at birth was performed 10,013 times between 1988 and its close in 2012.