From breakthrough musical performances to general thespian badassery, here are our favourite West End shows to book for International Women’s Day
Let’s face it, when it comes to curating an unforgettable night out, London’s West End has it all. From the glitzy show billboards to the buzzy overspill of Covent Garden’s prix-fixe restaurant scene, an evening in this iconic melting pot of giddy tourists, gigging actors and city culture vultures is always sure to be a winner.
And whether you’re a diehard Disney fan or someone that prefers their theatre a little more highbrow, this International Women’s Day we’re championing the West End shows that celebrate all things female. From historic queens and fairytale princesses, to witchy sisterhoods and one bona fide rock-and-roll legend, here are the nine West End shows to help channel some kickass female energy. You’re very, very welcome.
Clocking up an impressive 17 years in London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre, Wicked is the OG big-female-energy musical. Based on the beloved characters of L. Frank Baum (The Wizard Of Oz), this origins-style tale explores the backstory of Elphaba, a green-skinned revolutionary who goes on to become the notorious Wicked Witch of the West.
Winner of over 100 major international awards – including a Grammy – there’s a reason why Wicked is the 9th longest-running musical of all time.
Following sell-out runs at c, Manchester and London’s The Park Theatre, Rose, starring the legendary Maureen Lipman, transfers to the Ambassador Theatre from May 23rd for a run of just 28 performances.
Already hailed by critics, Rose tells the story of one woman’s journey from Nazi-occupied Europe to the shores of America. Thought-provoking and disarmingly relevant in today’s society, this play – penned by the award-winning Martin Sherman – is a reminder about how events of the past can ultimately shape our future.
Starring Beverley Knight, Sylvia tells the story of Sylvia Pankhurst, the lesser-known Pankhurst involved in the Suffragette movement that changed the political landscape for women across the world.
An activist, feminist and inspirational leader, Sylvia fuses musical genres including hip-hop, dance, funk and soul to create an electrically entertaining new musical. Sylvia has already been nominated for three Olivier Awards including Best New Musical. Playing now at the Old Vic (so not strictly West End, but just across the river…), Sylvia is about to go stratospheric.
The six wives of Henry VIII… as a musical? It might sound a little crazy, but Six, a musical about the lives of the iconic Tudor queens, has been taking the West End by storm. With two Tony awards already sparkling on its royal mantle, Six is a riotous 80 minutes of kickass tunes, costumes and 21st century girl power.
Presented as a pop concert, in which each queen sings about how badly she’s been treated by the notorious beheading-happy monarch, this show is fast-becoming one of the most exciting tickets to book right now.
The show that needs no introduction, Frozen is still the darling of London’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane, boasting sell-out performances and a jaw-dropping production that stays with audiences long after the curtain falls. Based on the 2013 Disney blockbuster, Frozen brings the story of Elsa and Anna to life, with an expanded song list (yes, ‘Let it Go’ is as epic as you’d imagine it to be), stunning scenery and incredible special effects.
Not just for kids, this tale of sisterhood and love will have anyone channelling their inner princess.
Starring the one and only Sophie Okonedo, this adaptation of the classic play by Euripides sees Okonedo take on one of the most complex and demonised female characters in theatre history – Medea, a woman scorned, betrayed and on a quest for revenge against the men that have wronged her.
Stripped-back and brutal, this production at London’s Soho Place is already being lauded as one of the city’s must-see shows. Playing until 22nd April, we suggest booking as soon as you can.
Simply the best? Probably. Packed full of barnstorming hits (‘Proud Mary’, ‘Private Dancer’, ‘River Deep’, ‘Mountain High’, need we go on…?), this show tells the story of Tina’s humble Tennessee beginnings, her turbulent relationship with Ike Turner, and how an 80s renaissance (and that hair) made her the undisputed Queen of Rock and Roll for all time.
Uplifting and inspirational, catch TINA – The Tina Turner Musical at London’s Aldwych Theatre now.
So what if the ending of the world’s most famous love story didn’t actually happen? That’s the premise of the wildly popular musical & Juliet, where Shakespeare’s doomed Verona heroine decides to take her fate into her own hands and live beyond Act 5.
Featuring a dazzling mix of pop tunes from legendary songwriter Max Martin – ‘Baby One More Time’, ‘Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)’, yes really – & Juliet is only playing for a few more weeks at London’s Shaftesbury Theatre, so get involved.
Returning to the West End to take on one of the most beloved one-woman plays of all time, Sheridan Smith is Shirley Valentine, the bored housewife who decides to ditch everything and head off on a dream holiday to Greece.
Playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre until early June, this adaptation from the Willy Russell play has been directed by Matthew Dunster, a three-time Olivier award-winner who’s recent work in the West End includes 2:22. When you have Sheridan Smith on stage, what else do you even need?