Critic’s Choice: London’s 10 Best New Musicals 31 July 2015

What Musical should you see first in London?

We have compiled this list to save you the trouble of working it out! It's just our view – and everyone has one – based on our Reviewers' thoughts. We will update the list regularly so new productions get on your radar and when original casts change that is factored in.

Musicals which have been running for more than three years are not included – this is a list for new or relatively new productions running in London.

So go see them!

Gypsy Savoy Theatre London

1. Gypsy
Everyone in this company is superb in their part, everyone can really sing, really dance and really deliver the goods in terms of dramatic and comic acting. This is that rare beast: an exquisitely cast musical where the requirements of the parts have more importance in the casting process than potential box office draw or Twitter popularity. It is difficult to believe that there has ever been a better Rose than Staunton creates here.
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The Spitfire Grill at the Union Theatre

Photo: Darren Bell

2. The Spitfire Grill
The Spitfire Grill is a musical treat. James Valco’s score is richly rewarding and creates a genuinely engaging musical atmosphere which helps shape and drive the narrative. He creates a true musical world for the characters and, within that world, each character has tunes and phrases which assist in illuminating them and their part in the story. It does not feel like a Sondheim score, but it has a similar effect. The songs are derived from the situation, the place, the pulse of the narrative; they are not grafted on as afterthoughts or fancy trimming.
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Katie Brayben plays carole King in Beautiful at London's Aldwych Theatre

Katie Brayben and Carole King in Beautiful. Photo: Brinkoff Mogenberg

3. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
The throbbing, majestic and luminous heart of this production comes from Katie Brayben’s faultless, radiant and absolutely triumphant turn as Carole King. Brayben recreates the feel, the sound, the look of Carole King in a completely authentic and resonant way – she feels like the natural woman.
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webCharlie-(Jake-Poolman)-and-the-Bucket-Family-in-Charlie-and-the-Chocolate-Factory.-Picture-by-Johan-Persson-(2)

4. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Sam Mendes’ production of the musical adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is in excellent shape. Nothing indicates that more clearly than the show not missing a beat despite the fact that three understudies were called upon to perform. The company didn’t hiccup. Routines are polished and well-drilled; Mark Thompson’s wonderfully colourful, and sometimes colourless, costumes and sets are in pristine shape and conjure up the requisite sense of magic effortlessly. The tunefulness and sprightly fun of Marc Shaiman’s music remains infectious and sweet.
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Songs For A New World at St James Theatre

Cynthia Erivo, Damian Humbley, Jenna Russell and Dean John-Wilson in Songs For A New World. Photo: Darren Bell

5. Songs For A New World
In Jenna Russell, Damian Humbley and Cynthia Erivo, Lenson has assembled three of the best, most exciting performers of musical theatre in London. Each performer turns in a bravura and totally committed performance here. Just hearing these people sing Brown’s music is worth the whole experience.
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Hounslow-Harriers-in-Bend-It-Like-Beckham-The-Musical.----Photo-credit-Ellie-Kurttz

6. Bend It Like Beckham
Act Two is practically perfect. It starts with a fabulous number for the girls, Glorious, and it never looks back. It’s full of great music from Goodall and the range of styles he covers is significant. He uses Punjabi tunes effectively, there is a terrific solo for Jules’s mother, There She Goes, a melodious duet which is gentle and joyful, Bend It, then a stirring quintet and an overwhelmingly joyous piece which celebrates the wedding of Pinky and Teetu in contrapuntal tandem with the celebration of the football grand final win. By the time the second Act is over, the longeurs of the first have been brushed aside, and the infectious sense of harmony and happiness is irrepressible.
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miss-saigon-3

7. Miss Saigon
If anything, this production of Miss Saigon re-establishes Cameron Mackintosh as the greatest producer of musicals ever. He understands his audience, and as a producer and theatre owner, he delivers!
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Memphis Shaftesbury Theatre

8. Memphis
More than anything else, Memphis is about change and acceptance, and the important way culture and art (music, in this case) can be transformative in important and tangible ways. But it is not worthy or earnest in any way; rather, it relies upon humour, heart and hockadoo, creating mini-tornadoes of singing and dancing joy to propel your spirit into the stratosphere.
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Bacharach Reimagined at the Menier Chocolate Factory

9. What's It All About?: Bacharach Reimagined.
There are shreds and patches of key songs, which, like Wagnerian leitmotifs, bind the whole experience, make it less a concert and more a pop/rock/r&b opera. “What’s it all about, Alfie?” is a key theme, appearing constantly throughout and, in a simple way, it provides the intellectual underpinning to the experience. Riabko and Selzer ask what Bacharach’s music is all about and shows you their answer. Emotionally complex, beguilingly catchy, intensely human, and tuneful in an all pervading kind of way.
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book-of-mormon

10. Book of Mormon
For my part, it is as plain as a pike staff that the performers at hard work in this Parker, Lopez and Stone piece are, uniformly, at the top of their game and give more than 100% constantly. This production is far, far better than that original Broadway production.
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Do you agree with our choices? Let us know what your favourite new musicals are at the moment.

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