Some West-End shows come and go, while others become a permanent fixture on London’s theatre scene. To celebrate London Theatre Month, we’ve compiled a list of the longest-running plays and musicals that are currently playing in London’s West End.
The Mousetrap: 61 years
The Mousetrap is the world’s longest-running play, captivating London audiences since 1952. Packed with suspense, the classic whodunit takes place in a remote English country house hotel during a snow storm.
Les Miserables: 28 years
Now in its 28th year, Les Misérables is the longest running musical in the world. This global stage sensation has been seen by more than 60 million people in 42 countries. Set in 19th-century France, Les Mis follows the plight of an ex-convict turned mayor who is hunted for decades by a ruthless policeman.
The Phantom of the Opera: 27 years
The Phantom of the Opera has reigned at Her Majesty’s Theatre for a whopping 27 years. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s epic musical, which opened on 9 October 1986, tells the tale of a disfigured composer who terrorises the Paris Opera in an attempt to make his protégé a leading lady.
The Woman in Black: 24 years
The Woman in Black has been terrifying audiences since 1989, making it the second longest-running play in the history of the West End. Based on Susan Hill’s eponymous novel, the spooky show sees a malevolent ghost haunting a small English town, bringing devastation to the lives of anyone who lays eyes on it.
The Lion King: 14 years
Still a roaring success, The Lion King is celebrating its 14th year at London’s Lyceum Theatre. Bursting with colour and brilliant songs, the Disney-movie-turned-musical sees fearless lion cub Simba making his epic journey to fulfil his destiny as king of the lions. The Lion King is one of five musicals to play for 10 or more years on both Broadway and the West End.
Mamma Mia: 14 years
Mamma Mia is now well into its second decade, after first opening in the West End in 1999. Based on the catchy tunes of Swedish pop quartet ABBA and set on a Greek island paradise, this feel-good show follows a daughter’s quest to discover the identity of her father.
We Will Rock You: 11 years
Mega-musical We Will Rock You has been a permanent fixture at the Dominion Theatre since 2002. Based on the songs of rock legends Queen, the show is set in a futuristic world where rock music has been banned.
Stomp: 10 years
Celebrating its 10th year in London, Stomp has been kept fresh with new routines, choreography and music. As its title suggests, talented performers use everything from zippo lighters to bin lids to hammer out a feel-good rhythm.
Billy Elliot: 8 years
Billy Elliot has been dazzling London’s West End since 2005 with its heart-warming tale of a young boy who struggles against the odds to fulfil his dream of becoming a ballet dancer. The all-singing all-dancing musical features an acclaimed score by Elton John.
Wicked: 7 years
Wicked made its West End debut seven years ago in 2006. Still going strong, the show welcomed its five millionth audience member last month. The award-winning musical tells the story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two young trainee witches who meet at sorcery school.