CRITICS CHOICE: Top 10 Musicals 1st May 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!

Imelda Staunton in Gypsy at London's Savoy Theatre

Lara Pulver and Imelda Staunton in Gypsy. Photo: Johan Persson

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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Katie Brayben plays carole King in Beautiful at London's Aldwych Theatre

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

2. 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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WEBWilly-Wonka-(Alex--Jennings)-in-Charlie-and-the-Chocolate-Factory.-Picture-by-Johan-Persson

3. 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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Jon Jon Briones as The Engineer in Miss Saigon

Jon Jon Briones as The Engineer in Miss Saigon

4. Miss Saigon
It’s a palpable hit, a wonderful, searing and soaring revival of Miss Saigon borne aloft by three remarkable performances from Noblezada, Hong and Carroll.
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Memphis the musical at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London

Photo: Johan Persson

5. 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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book-of-mormon

6. 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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Sunny-afternoon-2

7. Sunny Afternoon
There is a lot to like in Sunny Afternoon and overall the experience is more than satisfactory. It is great fun. Well worth seeing and hard not to enjoy.
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Women On The Verge Of a Nervous Breakdown The Musical to Close at the Playhouse Theatre London

8. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Tamsin Greig is the lead performer here. She is perfect for the acting requirements. She has style, a sense of whimsical élan and a marvellous comic ability. She lands all the jokes and finds the true sense of despair which defines her character
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The Commitments at the Palace Theatre London

9. The Commitments
It is chock full of great musical classics and extremely well sung and performed. Indeed, the vocal work of Killian Donnelly as the lewd lout Deco is assured, spectacular and riveting: a true tour-de-force.
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Closer To Heaven by Jonathan Harvey and The Pet Shop Boys at the Union Theatre, London

10. Closer to Heaven
What makes the musical stand-out is it unashamed gaiety, and I use that word in its modern sense. This is, as Nicholas De Jongh said when the piece premiered, “the first truly gay musical to be written and composed by Englishmen” to reach the West End. It is also essentially youthful, and quite uncompromising in dealing head on with the vagaries and traps of young adulthood: sex, drugs (use and sale), pop music, alcohol, predatory conduct, prostitution, love, survival, sexuality and, most compellingly, the family you create separate from the family into which you are born.
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