There’s something about seeing a musical in the lead up to Christmas, especially in the West End. Stepping out into the cold, taking in the festive lights and window displays, partaking in a drink of something warming… it’s all part of it. But what should you choose to see, if you’re lucky enough to be able to?


The West End is full to the brim with world-class musicals this December, some popping by for the season, others in it for the long haul. Here’s ten of the best to check out next time you’re in town.

Best West End musicals to see in December

& Juliet

Shaftesbury Theatre

A fabulous Pop fantasy, & Juliet is an alternate sequel-of-sorts to Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet. What if Juliet hadn’t copped it at the end of the story? What would she do next? With a set list of classic pop tracks penned by Swedish songwriter Max Martin, it’s a memorable (and terribly catchy) musical. Martin is responsible for some of the biggest hits recorded by artists such as Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Céline Dion, Demi Lovato and Katy Perrty (to name but a few!), so expect songs like ‘Oops!...I did it again’, ‘As Long As You Love Me’ and ‘I Kissed a Girl’…

Back to the Future – The Musical

Adelphi Theatre

Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale’s 1985 film classic, about a time-travelling teenager who finds himself inadvertently scuppering his own existence, takes to the stage in this epic musical rendering. Featuring original songs by the film’s composer Alan Silvetstri, with lyricist Glenn Ballard, the show features knockout performances by a brilliantly funny cast and some mind-blowing visual effects. It’s a journey back in time that you won’t forget in a hurry.

Find out more about Back to the Future – The Musical in this guide

Elf the Musical

Dominion Theatre

Back in the West End for a limited eight-week run, Elf has won the hearts of audiences around the world. Based on the hilarious film, it tells the story of a man raised by Elves in the North Pole who comes to New York to find his father. It has quietly become a classic of the Christmas season (both on screen and stage), with original songs by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin and brilliantly colourful set pieces. You’d be a cotton-headed ninny muggins to miss it…

We named Elf the Musical one of the best Christmas musicals to see


Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Disney’s uber-popular animated feature, based on The Snow Queen, gets the blockbuster musical treatment in this lavish production currently installed at the legendary Drury Lane theatre. The original songs by husband-and-wife songwriting partners Kristen and Robert Lopez are probably already engrained in your brain if you’ve got little ones in your life; if not, they soon will be… you just have to ‘Let It Go’.

The Lion King

Lyceum Theatre

Still a roaring success after 23 years at the Lyceum, Disney’s The Lion King remains one of the most popular tickets in town. Based on the 1994 animated feature, the show features stunning puppetry and beautiful vocal performances by the cast. The score features the original – and some additional – songs by Elton John and Tim Rice, Mark Mancina, Lebo M and Jay Rifkin plus music by Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer - one of the best film composers in the world.

Mary Poppins

Prince Edward Theatre

Everyone’s favourite Edwardian Nanny will soon be flying out of the Prince Edward Theatre, with the current run of Disney’s Mary Poppins ending on 8 January. So if you haven’t seen it, ‘spit spot’ and grab a ticket. It features original and specially composed songs by the legendary Sherman Brothers, dynamic dance sequences and more than a little stage magic. It’s practically perfect in every way…

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

Piccadilly Theatre

Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge! was made for the stage, and this eye-popping musical extravaganza doesn’t disappoint. Like the film it takes in the story of a young writer who falls in love with a courtesan at the famous Paris night spot with comical and devastating results. And like the film it features a dizzying array of familiar tunes from Bowie to the Beatles, with plenty of additions for this new live incarnation by the likes of Adele, Katy Perry and Beyoncé. It’s clever and colourful.

Only Fools and Horses the Musical

Theatre Royal Haymarket

One of the most surprising West End hits in recent years, Only Fools and Horses the Musical takes its lead from the brilliant BBC sitcom written by the late John Sullivan and features music and lyrics by Sullivan’s son Jim and original star Paul Whitehouse. The story of wheeler-dealer brothers Del and Rodney Trotter might be a very British brand of musical, but it’s done with great love for the characters. If you’re a fan of the show (and who isn’t in the UK?), it’ll tickle the funny bone and make you appreciate the original even more.

Matilda the Musical

Cambridge Theatre

The multi-award winning musical based on Roald Dahl’s much-loved book about a downtrodden little girl with magical powers has been in the West End for over a decade. In that time it has become a firm favourite with musical fans, largely thanks to its winning songs by Tim Minchin. It has just been transformed into a film musical which has a limited cinema run ahead of its premiere on Netflix this Christmas.

Six The Musical

Vaudeville Theatre

The Tony Award-winning musical about Henry VIII’s six wives continues to draw audiences in the West End, on Broadway and also on tour here in the UK recently. It’s a sensational show with brilliant songs by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss that gives the late Queens a moment in the spotlight to share their side of the story. Backed by an all-female band called ‘The Ladies in Waiting’, it’s a brilliantly riotous night out. Just don’t lose your head.


Main image: Scene from Elf © Getty Images


Michael BeekReviews Editor, BBC Music Magazine

Michael is the Reviews Editor of BBC Music Magazine. He was previously a freelance film music journalist and spent 15 years at St George's Bristol. Michael specialises in film and television music and was the Editor of He has written for the BBC Proms, BBC Concert Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Albert Hall, Hollywood in Vienna and Silva Screen Records.