Planning a trip to London? The Musicals...

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Whether you're travelling alone, with a partner, your kids or with your entire family (brothers, sisters, their kids, their kid's partners, their kid's partner's parents etc) there's a show in London tailor-made for you all to see.

If you've got kids on board then I suggest either The Lion King or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, because these have been designed with the attention spans of little 'uns in mind. Many parents are too quick to jump for Fame or Blood Brothers, but these cover issues of homosexuality and crime respectively, and the swear-words/content isn't for those under twelve, unless you want to explain the f-word, or, in the case of Blood Brothers, why the boy, who is played by a man, is throwing a condom full of water around.

The Lion King and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang both have Sunday shows (Chitty from the 21st March), although The Lion King sells out all performances with returns only on the day. Chitty you will find is easier to get tickets for, especially early in the week when it is unlikely to sell out. It's worth asking what their child policy is, they give reduced rates for some performances, but this is something only feasible with phone bookings.

Another under 10 show would be Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, but it is sickeningly upbeat and a bit amateurish, in my opinion not a good way to spend the pennies when you pay the same bucks for the other two, although Joseph does discount easily, especially for half price tickets, etc.

Taking teenagers widens your range to most shows, from my own experience there's nothing I've felt uncomfortable seeing (except when I took my 78 year old Grandma to see a one-woman show which had dildo jokes in..). Jerry Springer the Opera uses every expletive under the sun but this may give you street-cred as a parent/uncle/aunt. JSTO is also an easy way of getting the kids into the theatre, it has a familiar subject matter after all. Do not take anyone who is likely to be offended by bisexuals kissing transsexuals, fat women pole dancing and a black man playing Jesus in a diaper, etc.

Other teenage-friendly shows are Chicago, which is occasionally on TKTS but the success of the film has dogged box offices like on Broadway, Bombay Dreams, which will especially appeal to your 17 year old niece who is going through the Bollywood fashion stage where everything from her handbag to her socks is donned by the Indian film culture, and We Will Rock You has become a cult smash amongst teenagers – why not turn yours too if they like Queen's music?

If you're travelling alone, or without kids then I'd suggest Anything Goes. It's very old fashioned and very 1920s - a good example of how theatre should be done so far as costumes, staging, design and stunning choreography goes. Sally Ann Triplett and John Barrowman may also attract you to this, both brilliant musical stars.

Single woman? Tell Me On A Sunday is the reworked version of the 'Song' part of Song and Dance by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and is about a single English girl trying to find love in America. Horrifically pink, it'll make straight guys want to chop off their dicks and throw it at the actress (who it's OK to drool over, she's a former model - Denise Van Outen).

If you're a musical fan then we still have Phantom and Les Mis, but I can recommend two shows to you – Blood Brothers, which may be quiet on the audience figure front but 14 years later it must be doing something right; it's the most emotionally charged show in the West End and will make you laugh, cry and cheer, plus Jerry Springer the Opera, which you'll also need to take a Kleenex with you – for your laughter tears.

Unlike America where shows are divided between Ticketmaster and Telecharge, in the UK it's all at Ticketmaster.co.uk, but watch out for those booking fees. Obviously I wouldn't advise setting off on a theatre trip without booking tickets, but the TKTS booth does usually have most West End shows on except for Mamma Mia, Lion King and some performances of We Will Rock You. It changes daily, but check their website TKTS.co.uk for some idea of what's on there.

Next week – plays.

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Jake is currently studying at Bristol University and hopes to eventually pursue a career in the theatre industry as a writer/director. His favourite writers include American playwright Rebecca Gilman and he's a big supporter of new writing in Britain. In addition to BroadwayWorld, Jake also writes for BBC.co.uk, Whatsonstage.com and Theatremonkey.com.


 

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