London's legendary West End Theatre scene, the finest in the world. With numerous celebrities making their way across the ocean to embrace London's theatre crowd and to complement their acting profiles. Though New York's Broadway may have all the flamboyant decorations, the West End theatre scene has become increasingly vibrant in the past years. With shows such as; 'The Jerry Springer Musical', 'Daddy Cool' and 'Billy Elliot' just to mention a few. All drawing in hordes of theatre goers from all over the world, and attracting the non-theatre crowds in addition.
London's first playhouse was built at a location known as the Shoreditch in 1576 and carried the name of 'The Theatre'. Prior to this plays had been performed in courtyards, Inn yards and even in people homes. In 1663 the first West End theatre opened, the mini venue played host to the earliest stars such as Neil Gwyn and Charles Hart. Tragically the theatre burnt down due to a fire in 1672.
Today the West End has something for everyone; no longer is it associated with the aristocratic upper class, but a sanctuary for all types of people seeking no more than a thrilling production and electrifying performances by the old and new actors of today. Even more than New York, London is the theatre capital of the world. The number and array of productions, the standards of acting and world renowned directors have gone unrivalled in the world. London's West End theatre scene plays host to both the traditional and the avant-garde. Importantly London's Theatre scene is accessible and very reasonably priced. The West End has just welcomed the new Globe Theatre, which has become another exciting addition to the already amazing theatre district.
The world's longest running production is 'The Mousetrap' by Agatha Christie, the play has been running for 54 years and is still going strong drawing in crowds from afar. Some of the West End's most famous productions are 'Les Miserables', 'The Phantom of the Opera', 'Blood Brothers', 'The Woman In Black', 'Chicago', 'The Lion King' and 'Stomp'.
The term West End theatre is a popular expression for mainstream professional theatre in London. Along with New York's Broadway theatre, the West End theatre is considered to correspond to the highest level of commercial theatre in the English speaking world. Catching a West End production is a very prevalent tourist activity in London, which surpassed 12 million visitors in 2002 and since has increased every year.
The Longest running West End Musical is 'Les Miserables', which has been running for 21 years. The Most expensive West End show was 'Lord of the Rings', costing an estimated £8 million. The oldest West End Theatre is the 'Theatre Royal' on Drury Lane, which has been there 344 years. 'The Coliseum' is the biggest with 2358 seats. Dame Judi Dench and William Dudley have both received seven Laurence Oliver Awards. Dame Judi Dench won her first Laurence Olivier award in 1977 for her performance in Shakespeare's 'Macbeth'. The longest Shakespeare recital was done by Adrian Hilton which lasted 110 hours and 46 minutes. The play that took the longest to perform lasted 29 hours, directed by Neil Oram which has been recognised by the Guinness Book Of Records as the longest play in history. The play tells the story of an English mystic's journey through life.
The main theatre district in London is situated in the heart of the West End of London city centre. The fashion industry also blooms in this part with designer boutiques that cater for the rich and famous. The West End is home to more than the theatre scene, it plays host to some of Europe's best restaurants, clubs, bars and shops, also considered to be one the most expensive areas to live in London.
The West End has many beautiful and exclusive hotels that can facilitate all. Prices vary but the West End caters for everyone's needs. Commercial apartments are available to rent, as well as luxury hotels that specifically offer theatre breaks.
It is highly recommended that you visit the West End to experience everything which it has to offer. Take in a play, eat at a top restaurant and then to stay at one of the finest hotels.