A look at some of the longest-running London theatre shows which are still entertaining audiences across Theatreland today.

1. The Mousetrap

The longest running West End production is Agatha Christie’s classic ‘whodunnit’ tale of The MousetrapIt has been in London since 1952 and continues to keep audiences on the edge of their seat as they try to discover the prime suspect. 

The scene is set when a group of people gathered in a country house cut off by the snow discover, to their horror, that there is a murderer in their midst. It’s been at its current home, St Martin’s Theatre, since 1974! 

2. Les Misérables 

The second-longest running show in London is Les Misérables (pictured above) which has been entertaining London audiences since way back -  8th October, 1985 - with its iconic story of love and loss which is centred around the French revolution.

Les Miserables, London

Source: Johan Perrson

Stewart Clarke as ‘Javert’ and Josh Piterman as ‘Jean Valjean’ in Les Misérables.

Currently playing at the Sondheim Theatre, the magnificent score includes the songs; I Dreamed a Dream, On My Own, Bring Him Home, One Day More, Master Of The House and many more.

3. Phantom of the Opera 

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera has been playing in the West End since 9th October 1986. When the show closed in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was replaced in 2021 with updated staging to bring the much-loved tale into the 21st century.

The Phantom of the Opera

Source: Johan Persson

The masquerade scene featuring the whole ensemble in the Phantom of the Opera.

Groups can catch a performance at His Majesty’s Theatre, and watch in awe as a masked figure who lurks beneath the catacombs of the Paris Opera House exercises a reign of terror over all who inhabit it.

4. Mamma Mia! 

Mazz Murray continues to lead the cast as Donna in Mamma Mia! which originally opened in London at the Prince Edward Theatre on 6th April 1999, before transferring to the Prince of Wales Theatre in 2004, and then to the Novello Theatre in 2012.

Mazz Murray as Donna in MAMMA MIA!

Source: Brinkhoff & Mögenburg

Mazz Murray stars as Donna in Mamma Mia!

The London production has been seen by more than 10 million people, played over 9,000 performances and has broken box office records in all three of its London theatres. Audiences are whisked away to a sunny Greek island to see if Sophie can find her real father, with the chaos unfolding around ABBA’s timeless hits.

5. The Lion King 

Disney’s The Lion King has remained at the Lyceum Theatre ever since it opened on 19th October 1999 and is now the eighth longest running show of all time. Groups can be transported to the African Savannah through colourful costumes, feel-good music and amazing special effects which are sure to impress all ages. Did you know it takes 114 people to prepare for each performance and the phrase “Hakuna Matata” (“No worries”) is said 25 times in every performance.

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6. Wicked 

Wicked first opened in Theatreland on 27th September 2006 at the Apollo Victoria Theatre where it remains today. Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, Wicked imagines a back story and future possibilities to the lives of L. Frank Baum’s characters from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and reveals the decisions and events that shape the destinies of two university friends on their journey to becoming Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.

Wicked 2023-24 London Company

Source: Mark Senior

Wicked has been entertaining audiences since 2006.

Now in its 17th year in the West End, Wicked  has been seen by more than 11 million people in London alone, performing over 6,000 times at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. UK executive producer, Michael McCabe, told GLT in a recent interview that “it has been incredible to watch its momentum. It’s now very much part of the landscape and feels like a permanent fixture.”

7. Matilda

Since opening on 24th November 2011 at Cambridge Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Matilda, inspired by the beloved book by author Roald Dahl, has won countless awards. 

The show features original songs by Tim Minchin and tells the extraordinary story of a little girl who, armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, dares to take a stand and change her own destiny.

8. The Book of Mormon

The Prince of Wales Theatre has been home to The Book of Mormon since 21st March 2013, having premiered on Broadway in 2011. The story follows two missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as they attempt to preach the faith to the inhabitants of a remote Ugandan village. 

The London cast of The Book of Moromon

Source: Paul Coltas

The Book of Mormon has won plenty of accolades, including four Olivier Awards.

After The Book of Mormon received its long-awaited West End stage premiere, it took home the 2013 Evening Standard Award for Best Night Out and four 2014 Olivier Awards for Best New Musical, Best Actor in a Musical (Gavin Creel), Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical (Stephen Ashfield), and Best Theatre Choreographer (Casey Nicholaw).