What Makes a Smash Hit in London’s West End?

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Matilda the MusicalWith an influx of new Musicals opening and shutting within the last year or so, it got us thinking about what makes a long-lasting show in London’s West End. In May 2014 the much-hyped X Factor Musical ‘I Can’t Sing’ closed after just a two month run, the musical followed a luckless young Londoner who became a contestant on the ITV show the X Factor. Having been written by comedian Harry Hill, surely it was destined for success, but it seems it wasn’t to be.

Then the Spice Girls Musical ‘Viva Forever’ was axed after only six months, making an estimated loss of £5m in 2013.

In contrast, long running favourite ‘We Will Rock You’ shut its doors for the final time in May 2014 after 12 long years in the Dominion Theatre London. Meanwhile, Rock of Ages and The Bodyguard the Musical are imminently departing on Nationwide tours.

So, what promises West End longevity, success and eternal applause and jazz hands? We’ve got a few ideas:

A Good Storyline

A moving, heartfelt storyline that engages with the audience and draws you into the drama is a winner in the West End. Les Miserables has enjoyed a particularly long run (how long??) which can only be down to its powerful  storyline. Billy Elliot the Musical opened in 2005 and has enjoyed success exploring the life of 11 year old Billy, who was interested in ballet during the 1984 Miners’ Strike.

2)      Stunning Staging

Good staging helps in the world of the West End; The Lion King the Musical features spectacular costumes, sets and props – you literally feel like you have been transported to the Sarangeti Plains and is a real visual spectacle from start to finish.

3)     A West-End superstar
‘One Man Two Guv’nors’ had a popular run with James Corden at the helm in 2012 and Ronan Keating is soon to join ‘Once the Musical’ at the Phoenix Theatre – perhaps their celebrity status is part of the magic formula!

4)      An amazing Original Soundtrack (or OST for those in the know)
A catchy soundtrack is a extremely important and every Musical needs that ONE song (Defying Gravity from Wicked, Falling Slowly from Once & I Dreamed a Dreamed from Les Miserables, to name just a few!). Which leads us to our next point…

5)      Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber
We’re not sure if anyone has had quite so much success as a composer in the West End but if we had to put our money on it, we’d say he was the best… His musicals include The Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita and Starlight Express to name just a few!

6)      Powerful lead heroine characters
Applause goes out to ‘Wicked’ for this one, where the untold story of the witches of Oz Glinda the Good and Elphaba, aka the Wicked Witch of the West, leave you feeling rather empowered. (So much so that we think the creators of Disney’s Frozen might just have had a little inspiration!) Similarly Chicago has had rather a lot of success with two lead females, though it’s currently not on the West End.

7)      Fun for all the family

Some shows are just perfect for all the family and enjoyable for the young and old; Mamma Mia and Matilda the Musical are fantastic examples. Catchy songs, good dancing and a whole lotta fun!

If you fancy seeing a musical or show for yourself in London, visit Door2Tour.com to find a great range of packages and options available.