The West End’s longest running shows
Last month Disney’s The Lion King became the ninth longest-running musical in West End history. The show, which plays at the Lyceum Theatre, pushed Cameron Mackintosh’s hit production of Miss Saigon off the spot, when it played its 4,265th performance on 18 December 2009.
The Lion King is one of only five musicals in theatre history to play for ten years or more on both Broadway and the West End, and the Broadway production also stands as the ninth longest running musical on the Great White Way.
In London the show has been by more than 8 million people and has won a slate of international awards.
It has quite a way to go to beat the longest running musical on the West End’s stage, Les Miserables, which originally opened at the Barbican Theatre on 8 October 1985. The show is closely followed by Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, which is in its 24th year in the West End – and still at its original venue, Her Majesty’s Theatre. Lloyd-Webber must be hoping his sequel to The Phantom, Love Never Dies, is as much of a success. And it’s looking good given that the show has already taken around £8 million in ticket sales, with previews not starting at the Adelphi Theatre until 20 February.
Of course, all of the musicals on the longest-running list pale in to insignificance compared to the longest-running show on the London stage: The Mousetrap, which opened on the 25 November 1952 at the Ambassadors Theatre and is still going strong 57 years later at the St Martin’s Theatre.
The West End’s longest-running musicals:
1. Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theatre – opened 8 October 1985 originally at the Barbican Theatre
2. The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre – opened 9 October 1986
3. Blood Brothers at the Phoenix Theatre – opened 28 July 1988 originally at the Albery Theatre
4. Cats – opened 11 May 1981 at the New London Theatre and closed 11 May 2002
5. Starlight Express – opened 27 March 1984 at the Apollo Victoria Theatre and closed 12 January 2002
6. Chicago at the Cambridge Theatre – opened 18 November 1997 originally at the Adelphi Theatre
7. Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story – opened 12 October 1989 at the Victoria Palace Theatre, transferred to the Novello (formerly the Strand) Theatre October 1995 and closed 19 May 2002
8. Mamma Mia! at the Prince of Wales Theatre – opened 6 April 1999 originally at the Prince Edward Theatre
9. Disney’s The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre – opened 19 October 1999
10. Miss Saigon at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane – opened 20 September 1989 and closed 30 October 1999
The West End’s longest-running plays or entertainment shows:
1. The Mousetrap at the St Martin’s Theatre – opened 25 November 1952 originally at the Ambassadors Theatre
2. No Sex Please, We’re British at the Strand Theatre – opened 3 June 1971 and closed 16 January 1987
3. The Black and White Minstrel Show at the Victoria Palace Theatre – opened in 1962 and closed about 1972
4. Aldwych Farces at the Aldwych Theatre – opened in 1925 and closed in 1933
5. There’s A Girl In My Soup at the Globe Theatre – opened in June 1966 and closed in 1973